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Court Admits Asylum Seekers' Obstacles
2007-10-01

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The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has acknowledged that individuals seeking asylum based on their sexual orientation face unique obstacles when attempting to accomplish their goals, according to a release from Heartland Alliance.

Dominic Moab, a Liberian man living in Chicago, sought asylum in the United States in August 2005 after reportedly being brutally beaten on several occasions because he is gay. In Moab v. Gonzales, the Seventh Circuit found that Moab should not have been expected to discuss his homosexuality with immigration officers within hours of his arrival at O'Hare International Airport.

Asylum seekers can request asylum when they arrive at U.S. airports without travel documents and tell immigration officers they are afraid of persecution in their home country. Moab's asylum claim was originally rejected by an immigration judge because he had not discussed his fear of persecution based on his sexual orientation; however, he raised the matter in his asylum application and court proceedings.

'We think it reasonable that Mr. Moab would not have wanted to mention his sexual orientation for fear that revealing this information could cause further persecution as it had in his home country of Liberia,' Judge Kenneth F. Ripple wrote in the Seventh Circuit opinion.

Moab was represented on a pro bono basis by Richard Johnson of the law firm Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick & Dym, Ltd.


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