Saturday, March 10, 2007

Art Leonard: A Dismal two weeks for gay and HIV+ political asylum seekers

NYU Law School professor Art Leonard continues his groundbreaking look at recent asylum court decisions and says that it has been "a pretty dismal showing over the past two weeks for gay and/or HIV+ asylum applicants."

He profiles cases in which the courts ruled against gay and/or HIV+ asylum seekers from the Philipines, China, Kenya, Turkey and Venezuela. Full details over on his blog.

In Paredes v. U.S. Attorney General, 2007 Westlaw 634424 (11th Circuit, March 5, 2007), which involves an HIV+ gay man from Venezuela, the court said:
"The evidence in the record may support a finding that there is discrimination against HIV-infected homosexual men in Venezuela, but that discrimination does not rise to the level of persecution. For example, the news articles that Paredes submitted establish that the police participated in arbitrary arrests of homosexual men and that there existed a culture of discrimination against homosexuals. Although such discrimination is reprehensible, it does not rise to the level of persecution that would compel reversal of the IJ's decision. Paredes's claim that there is a pattern or practice of persecution against HIV-infected homosexual men in Venezuela is further undercut by his multiple trips back to Venezuela with and without his domestic partners voer the past 20 years."
Regarding this ruling as well as the others, Mr. Leonard writes:
The bottom line, at least according to this opinion, is that in order for things to be bad enough to qualify for asylum, it is not enough to show that things are bad or difficult or even hazardous; one must show, more or less, that the government is out to systematically round up, abuse, and severely persecute gay (and or HIV+) people. What is continually frustrating in reading these opinions is their conclusory nature. The court will recite some evidence and then assert, without explanation, that it does not "rise to the level of persecution," without really explaining why not.

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