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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Gay man eligible for US asylum
A homosexual man from Mexico has been granted asylum into the United States on the grounds that he risked being persecuted at home.

The landmark ruling came as Mexico's president-elect, Vicente Fox called for open borders between Mexico and the US during a visit to the White House.

Vicente Fox
Vicente Fox: Calls for open borders with US
Giovanni Hernandez Montiel, a gay transvestite, who fled to San Francisco in 1995, told an appeals court in the city that he had suffered repeated harassment and persecution, including being sexually assaulted by police.

He said he had once spent a week in hospital after a knife attack by a group of men who had insulted him.

'Particular social group'

The appeals court heard evidence from a Latin American cultural specialist, Professor Thomas Davies Jr, of San Diego State University.

He said in his testimony that gay men with "feminine" tendencies were targeted more often than other members of the gay community.

In his ruling Judge Judge A Wallace Tashima said Mr Hernandez Montiel should be granted asylum because he was a member of a "particular social group" persecuted in his homeland.

The judge said: "[Hernandez Montiel's] female sexual identity is immutable because it is inherent in his identity; in any event, he should not be required to change it."

"We conclude that the record compels a finding that he is entitled to asylum and withholding of deportation," Judge Tashima added.

Correspondents say the court ruling expands the social circumstances that immigration officials now have to consider during asylum rulings. They include an African woman's fear of genital mutilation in her homeland.

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25 Aug 00 | Americas
Mexico and US look to future
18 May 00 | Americas
Mexico attacks US vigilantes
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