Fear of Persecution Gets Gay Lebanese Man Asylum Hearing
Advocate, March 9, 2005
A gay Lebanese man suffering from AIDS has enough reason
to fear persecution in his native country that he shouldn’t be deported
while he is seeking asylum in the United States, a federal appeals court has
The ninth U.S. circuit court of appeals, reversing the
decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, found Monday that
Nassier Mustapha Karouni’s fear of being arrested, tortured, or killed in a
country where homosexuality is considered a crime was based in fact and not
just emotion. “The record demonstrates that...militants and certain factions
of the Lebanese and local governments are a credible threat to homosexuals
like Karouni,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the three-judge panel.
In determining that Karouni’s sexual orientation makes
him eligible for refugee status, the court rejected the Justice Department’s
argument that Karouni could avoid the fate of gay friends who were beaten,
jailed, or murdered if he refrained from having sex upon his return home.
“The attorney general appears content with saddling Karouni with the
Hobson’s choice of returning to Lebanon and either facing persecution for
engaging in future homosexual acts or living a life of celibacy. In our view,
neither option is acceptable,” Pregerson wrote.
The court did not rule on Karouni’s asylum petition but
remanded it to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
Karouni’s immigration lawyer, Douglas Nelson of San
Diego, declined to comment on Monday’s ruling. He said Karouni is afraid his
family in Lebanon will be ostracized or worse.
Karouni first came to the United States on a visitor’s
visa in 1987 and applied for asylum in 1998. Immigration officials ordered him
deported for overstaying his visa, and he appealed, citing the experience of a
former lover who was beaten and a gay cousin who was shot in the anus and
later killed, allegedly by members of the militant Islamic group Hezbollah.
He also testified that two men armed with machine guns
came to his apartment after learning that he had been in a relationship with
another man and that if he returned to Lebanon, he would not be able to
receive treatment for AIDS. (Lisa Leff, AP)
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