Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic yesterday secured asylum for a gay, HIV-positive man who feared persecution if forced to return to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued the grant of asylum.

“This case sheds light on the violence and abuse gay men and people living with HIV/AIDS face in Côte d’Ivoire,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg , who directs the Clinic. The extensive documentation of the horrific conditions faced by gay and HIV-positive Ivoirians that the Clinic students compiled is now available for all gay or HIV-positive asylum-seekers from Côte d’Ivoire.

The asylee, age 32, arrived in the United States in January 2004. His application for asylum describes the personal violence and abuse he was subjected to because of his sexual orientation. He has been raped and beaten by military and militia members and was subjected to constant verbal and physical abuse by his neighbors, classmates and his own father. His application also describes the lack of protection offered him at home in Côte d’Ivoire, where police too participate in the persecution of gay people.

“I feel really happy and blessed that I was granted asylum, because I was not expecting it,” the asylee said. “I am so happy that I can stay in the U.S. and live a happy and healthy life.” He added, “I am so grateful for all of the hard work of the Clinic students, Professor Goldberg and Immigration Equality.”

Since this past September, five students from Columbia’s Sexuality and Gender Clinic – Dana Kaufman ’09, Holly Chen ’09, Abbey Hudson ’09, Brad Mullins ’10 and Keren Zwick ’09 – have provided legal assistance to the asylee. Immigration Equality, a national organization focused on immigration rights for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) individuals, referred this asylum-seeker to the Clinic and provided important assistance on the case.

“Our client’s personal story reveals the perilous conditions for gay men in Côte d’Ivoire who are beaten, sexually assaulted and rejected by the military, police, militias, civilians and even their own families,” said Chen.

The Clinic students spent several months conducting interviews, drafting affidavits, researching country conditions, reaching out to HIV experts and filling out necessary forms to complete the asylum application. The students also accompanied their client to the asylum office in Rosedale, New York, for his asylum interview, where Chen and Kaufman asked follow-up questions and made a closing presentation to the asylum officer after the client’s testimony.

“We are thankful that our client will finally be able to live openly as a gay man, safe from government-sponsored persecution, and that he will be able to access the life-saving HIV medications that he would not have been able to obtain in Côte d’Ivoire,” added Kaufman. “We hope that our client’s case will help combat the misperception that Côte d’Ivoire is a safe place for gay people, and will let other Ivoirians who were persecuted because of their sexual orientation know that they are not alone,” said Kaufman.

Goldberg said, “This experience – where students are responsible for working through the challenges of a case that makes a real-world difference in an emerging and important area of law – is what the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic is all about.”

Three Cheers to the students in the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic!!!

Add a comment


Comments are subject to moderation and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of
Columbia Law School or Columbia University.

FEATURED POSTS

CATEGORY CLOUD

"Homeland" Security Abortion Rights Activism Adoption adultery Advocacy Affordable Care Act Alien Tort Claims Act Amicus Brief Asylum Bankruptcy BDS Bullying Census Politics Children Citizenship Civil Unions Clinic Columbia Law School Compulsory Marriage Condoms Contraception Contraception Mandate Cordoba House Criminal Law Cures for Homosexuality Defense of Marriage Act Disability Rights Discrimination Divorce Domestic Partnership Domestic Violence Domestic Workers Don't Ask Don't Tell Earth Day Economic Justice Education Egypt Elections Employment Discrimination ENDA Estate Planning Events Family Law Fellowships femininity Feminism Free Speech Gender and Technology Gender Identity Discrimination Gendering the Economy Gender Justice GSL Online Haiti Hate Crimes Health Care Hilary Clinton Hillary Clinton HIV HIV Discrimination Hobby Lobby Homelessness Homophobia Housing Human Rights Identity Politics Illegitimacy (sic) Immigration Reform In-ing Incest India International Law Intersectional Feminism Islamophobia Israel Jobs Justice Sotomayor King & Spalding Labor Trafficking Land Reform Law School Legal Profession Legal Scholarship Lesbian & Gay Parenting LGBT Parenting Marital Status Discrimination Marriage Marriage Equality Masculinity Medicaid Michelle Obama Migration Military National Security Obama Administration Obama Appointments Obergefell Outing OWS Palestine Parenting Pinkwashing Policing Politics of the Veil Polyamory Popular Culture Pornograpy Pregnancy Presidential Politics Prisons Privacy Products Liability Profanity Prop 8 Prosecutorial Discretion Publications Public Rights/Private Conscience Public Rights/Private Conscience Project Queer Theory Queer vs. Gay Rights Race and Racism Racial Stereotyping Rape Religion Religious Accommodation Religious Exemption Religious Exemptions Religious Freedom Restoration Act Religious Fundamentalism Reproductive Rights Reproductive Technology RFRA Romania Rwanda Sartorial Commentary Schools Sex Discrimination Sex Education Sex Stereotyping Sexting Sex Trafficking Sexual Assault Sexual Duplicity Sexual Harassment Sexual Health Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic Sexual Orientation Discrimination Sex Work Silencing of voices SMUG Sodomy Law Reform Solidarity Sports Supreme Court Surrogacy Technology Title IX Trafficking Transgender Uganda Uncategorized Violence Women and Poverty Women of Color Work Zimbabwe

Academic Calendar  |  Resources for Employers  |  Campus Map & Directory  |  Columbia University  |  Jobs at Columbia  |  Contact Us

© Copyright 2009, Columbia Law School. For questions or comments, please contact the webmaster.