HIV, LGBT, Immigration and Disability Rights Groups Urge Federal Court to Grant Asylum to Gay Man With HIV Who Fled Mexico


May 20, 2014


The Center for HIV Law and Policy joined with HIV, LGBT, immigration, and disability rights advocates to file a friend-of-the-court (amicus) brief in Doe* v. Holder, supporting asylum protection and relief for a gay Latino immigrant living with HIV who would face persecution if he were deported to Mexico.


In this case, an immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied immigration protection citing legal and social advances for gay and lesbian people in Mexico, including marriage equality. As the friend-of-the-court brief explains, despite some progress, there is extensive evidence confirming the entrenched prejudice and persecution of LGBT people and those living with HIV in Mexico. LGBT individuals and those living with HIV are systematically beaten, raped, and murdered. Mexican law enforcement officials and governmental authorities often ignore – and even actively participate in – violence against LGBT individuals.


As this case was being adjudicated, Mr. Doe was diagnosed with HIV. Coupled with his sexual orientation, an HIV diagnosis substantially increases the risk and likelihood that he will be persecuted if he is deported to Mexico. People living with HIV, particularly those who are LGBT, are subject to persecution in Mexico—from police misconduct and government-sanctioned violence and brutality, to the denial of access to lifesaving medical care and treatment.


“Passing a law that allows same-sex couples to marry in Mexico City, has not materially changed the longstanding, deep-seated social and cultural realities that subject LGBT people – particularly those living with HIV – to widespread violence and persecution across Mexico. Before deporting someone to torture, courts should make nuanced decisions based on a review of all relevant factors. In this case, there has been no consideration at all of on-the-ground realities and attitudes about HIV,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, CHLP Legal Director.


This case should be remanded for a full review of the merits, including an assessment of the likelihood of persecution based on sexual orientation and HIV status.


The friend-of-the-court brief was filed by The Center for HIV Law and Policy, Public Law Center, Lambda Legal, National Immigrant Justice Center, HIV Law Project, Immigration Equality, Disability Rights Legal Center, and the Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center.


*This is a pseudonym.