Hogan Lovells Secures Landmark Pro Bono Asylum Victory for Gay Macedonian Couple

NEW YORK, NY, 18 February 2015 – A team of Hogan Lovells pro bono lawyers recently secured a landmark asylum victory for a gay married couple fleeing persecution in Macedonia. The couple received asylum in one of the first cases of its kind following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Windsor v. United States.

As a result of the high court’s 2013 ruling striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, gay and lesbian asylum applicants can now seek derivative asylee status for their spouses. Prior to Windsor, derivative asylee status was only available to heterosexual spouses.

The pro bono team handled the matter through Immigration Equality, and the January 2015 grant of asylum for both men is a landmark victory for gay married couples.

In Macedonia, the two young men were attacked by homophobic civilians, sexually abused, and violently beaten by anti-gay police officers.  Fearing for their lives, they escaped their native country by obtaining visas to travel to the United States for temporary employment. Once in the U.S., they were married in New York and turned to Immigration Equality for help in applying for asylum.

Over the course of six months, Hogan Lovells lawyers assisted the clients by drafting affidavits describing the anti-gay persecution they had suffered in Macedonia, collecting supporting evidence and witness affidavits to corroborate the facts of the case, and preparing them for the asylum interview.

Partner Pieter Van Tol and associates Erin Meyer, Marisa Lenok, and Garima Malhotra handled the case, with help from associates Nina Tandon, Conway Ekpo, David Mitchell, Annette Boglev, Samuel Zimmerman, Robert Baldwin, Katelyn Ruiz, and assistant Carol Kooshian.

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