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Hogan Lovells Pro Bono Team Obtains Asylum Victory for Gay Man from Jamaica

06 May 2015

NEW YORK, 6 May 2015 – Hogan Lovells is pleased to announce that yesterday, a team of pro bono lawyers secured an asylum victory for a gay man fleeing persecution in Jamaica.

This final grant of asylum comes at a time when gay men in Jamaica face serious threats of violence from the community and the police. Upon being outed as a gay man in Jamaica, the firm’s client was beaten by a police officer, attacked by a mob, gang-raped at knife-point, slashed with a machete, and threatened with death by numerous anti-gay civilians. In a number of these incidents, the man called the police, but rather than protect him, the police supported his attackers. He escaped to the United States in 2011 on a temporary work visa.

Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men is criminalized under Jamaican law, which deems such conduct punishable by up to 10 years in prison. As the U.S. Department of State’s 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices observed, “homophobia [is] widespread” in Jamaica, and gay men in Jamaica face “violence, harassment, and discrimination.”

Immigration Equality referred the man to the Hogan Lovells pro bono team in 2012, as his one-year filing deadline was soon approaching. The team quickly prepared a detailed affidavit describing the long history of anti-gay persecution he had suffered in Jamaica and collected supporting evidence and witness affidavits to corroborate the facts of his case. Over the next three years, as the man awaited an asylum interview due to the Asylum Office’s large backlog of applications, the team stayed in close contact with him knowing that when his interview notice arrived, the team would have only two weeks to prepare him for the interview.  The interview was completed in April 2015 with a final grant of asylum issued two weeks later.

Associates Erin Meyer and Erin Howell handled the case, under the supervision of partner Scott Friedman and with the help of paralegal Cathleen Velke and assistants Carol Kooshian and Evelyn Harrow.

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