Keeping The Homeland Safe From Gay Latinos, Regardless Of The Cost

After yesterday's story about "Nichole," who is being spared deportation (for now) due to her sexuality, the Washington Post has an in-depth piece about gay asylum seekers from Latin America. In 1994, then-Attorney General Janet Reno ruled that asylum seekers could legally argue that they needed asylum because they would be persecuted for their homosexuality in their native countries. Many early seekers of asylum using those provisions were gay men from Latin America, and especially Mexico, where gay men were often beaten and abused even by the police.But, in the last year or so, lawyers representing asylum-seekers say that the Department of Homeland Security's already-opaque decision-making structure has significantly decreased the number of asylum petitions from gay Latinos that it accepts. But even Jorge Saavedra, who directs the Mexican government's AIDS programs and is openly gay and HIV-positive himself, says that homophobia still runs rampant in Mexico. Why now? In 2006, Mexico passed a same-sex unions law that — as one assumes many in the LGBT community in the United States could already guess — did nothing to end the scourge of homophobia and, some say, might have made things worse by making homophobes more anxious and aggressive toward gay Mexicans. In the meantime, the Department of Homeland Security — for completely apolitical reasons I'm sure — decided last year that every single asylum petition from Mexico has to undergo a "special" review by the Department in Washington. Grants of asylum have begun to plummet, even as Mexicans seeking asylum continue to report tales that ought to horrify us all — including tales of being forced to perform sex acts on prisoners for the amusement of the guards and of being fired for being HIV-positive. But, you know, that's no reason to take their tired, their poor, their huddled masses longing to breathe free or their gay citizens trying to escape a life of abuse. Homosexuality's a choice after all. As Latin Nations Treat Gays Better, Asylum Is Elusive [Washington Post]

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