Gay Lebanese Man Wins Asylum Hearing
March 8, 2005
By The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO, CA—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 ruled Monday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, reversing the
decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington, found 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
“The record demonstrates that Hizballah militants and
certain factions of the Lebanese and local governments are a credible threat
to homosexuals like Karouni,” Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the
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
“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
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.
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