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28 gay Jamaicans granted asylum in US last year

CMC

Saturday, February 12, 2011 | 1:11 PM    

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NEW YORK, United States — Immigration Equality, an organisation which works to secure asylum for individuals persecuted in their home country based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV-status, said it won dozens of cases for clients from the Caribbean in 2010.

The organisation said that it won a record 101 cases last year.

"An overwhelming number of the victories, 38, were for clients from the Caribbean, with 28 of those for individuals from Jamaica,"; it said. There were four successful cases from Grenada.

"Other cases included 24 asylum seekers from Central and South America; 16 from Eastern Europe (including seven Russian clients); nine from the African continent and five from the Middle East."

The organisation, which maintains the largest network of pro bono attorneys, in addition to its in-house legal staff, is dedicated solely to seeking asylum for Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers.

Immigration Equality said that it has 97 additional cases filed in 2010 which are awaiting a ruling, as well as several cases filed prior to 2010.

"For too many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the world remains a dangerous place," said Rachel B. Tiven, the group's executive director.

"In many cases, the clients who turn to Immigration Equality for help are literally running for their lives. They have been mistreated and beaten by authorities in their home country, disowned by their families and ostracized by society. By offering them safe haven, the United States is not only saving their lives, but benefitting from the talent, skills and service these asylees bring to our country. We are proud, and honored, to help them begin life anew here in their adopted homeland."

Since the mid-1990s, the United States has recognised persecution due to sexual orientation and gender identity as a basis for seeking asylum.

In the past five years, Immigration Equality and its partner law firms have represented more than 500 LGBT people fleeing persecution abroad. Clients have hailed from some of the most notoriously homophobic countries in the world, including Uganda, Syria and Egypt.

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