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Hogan Lovells Secures Pro Bono Asylum Victory for Nigerian Man Fearing Persecution Over Sexual Orientation

29 August 2017

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Maria Woehr

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+1 212 918 6154

Philadelphia, 29 August 2017 – A team of Hogan Lovells lawyers recently obtained a pro bono asylum victory on a matter referred by Immigration Equality, a nonprofit organization focusing on LGBTQ immigrant rights.

The client, a gay man from Nigeria, entered the United States as a tourist in December 2013. During his visit, then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, essentially outlawing homosexuality in the country. After the bill was signed into law, the man decided to seek asylum in the United States and sought assistance from the Center for Integration and Courageous Living and Immigration Equality.

The Hogan Lovells team filed the man’s Application for Asylum with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asserting prior persecution based on sexual orientation while living in Nigeria, as well as a well-founded fear of future persecution based on sexual orientation if he returned to Nigeria. While his application was pending, the man settled in the Philadelphia area and Hogan Lovells assisted with obtaining and maintaining his Employment Authorization as well as locating resources for new immigrants and refugees.

After nearly three years of waiting, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted the client’s asylum request on August 17. He will be eligible to apply for permanent residence in one year.  Senior associate Blake Wilson, who led the Hogan Lovells team, said, “Our client is delighted and relieved to be able to live without fear of being returned to a country that criminalizes him for being gay.”

“In over 80 countries around the world, it is a crime or fundamentally unsafe for individuals to be LGBTQ,” said T. Clark Weymouth, head of Hogan Lovells’ U.S. pro bono efforts. “Those seeking asylum from this persecution face an uphill battle, and we take great pride in knowing that our efforts have changed someone’s life for the better. We’ve had a long history of working with Immigration Equality on LGBTQ related asylum cases and this is a great outcome for this individual.”

The Hogan Lovells team included, in addition to Mr. Wilson, partner David Newmann, associates Cary Adickman and Eitan Ulmer and former paralegal Richard Walk.

Founded in 1994, Immigration Equality is the nation's leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization representing and advocating for people fleeing violence, abuse, and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. Each year, they provide advice and legal services to thousands of LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants seeking refuge, fair treatment, and freedom in the United States with a remarkable 99% success rate.

About Hogan Lovells

Hogan Lovells is a leading global legal practice providing business-oriented legal advice and high-quality service across its exceptional breadth of practices to clients around the world.

“Hogan Lovells” or the “firm” is an international legal practice that includes Hogan Lovells US LLP and Hogan Lovells International LLP. For more information, see www.hoganlovells.com.

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