Hogan Lovells Pro Bono Team Obtains Asylum Victory for Gay Man from Belarus
03 March 2015
NEW YORK, 3 March, 2015 – Hogan Lovells is pleased to announce that in February, a team of pro bono lawyers secured an asylum victory for a young gay man fleeing persecution in Belarus.
When the man reported to the Belarusian military to begin his mandatory military service, the military medical personnel subjected him to a psychological evaluation through which they deemed him “unfit to serve due to the disease of homosexuality.” Thereafter, they forcibly confined him in a government-run mental institution for two weeks so the doctors could attempt to “cure” him of his homosexuality through a series of “treatments” that included strapping cables to his head and locking him in a dark box.
After being released from the mental institution with an official diagnosis of the “disorder of sexual preference,” the man became a victim of police brutality during a police raid on an underground gay club in Minsk. Fearing for his life, he escaped to the United States on a tourist visa and turned to Immigration Equality for help in applying for asylum.
Immigration Equality referred the man to the Hogan Lovells pro bono team in April 2014, whereupon the team began assisting him by drafting an affidavit describing the anti-gay persecution he suffered in Belarus, collecting supporting evidence and witness affidavits to corroborate the facts of the case, and preparing him for the asylum interview through a series of practice interviews at which pro bono attorneys played the role of an asylum officer.
Associates Erin Meyer, Daniel Lanigan, and Scott Grossman handled the case, with the help of partners Joe Cyr, Phoebe Wilkinson and Oliver Armas; associates Gregory Hafkin, Gene Magidenko, Brooke Guven, Marisa Lenok, Shane Johnson, and Jenna Watson; discovery coordination attorney Carol Cheng; and assistant Carol Kooshian.