Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Asylum & Immigration

Case: In re S.K.

STATUS: Pending, Pakistan, Board of Immigration Appeals

S.K. is a gay Pakistani man seeking asylum and withholding of removal because he fears persecution based on his sexual orientation and HIV status. Under Pakistani law, being gay is punishable by death, and LGBT people are forced to live in secrecy and constant fear of exposure. The Immigration Judge ignored the serious risk of persecution that S.K. faces and denied his application for asylum. The judge held that S.K., who is HIV positive, and was in a committed relationship with a man in Minnesota, could avoid persecution by hiding his sexual orientation, marrying a woman, and having children. The Immigration Judge also failed to recognize that S.K.’s traumatizing diagnosis of HIV understandably delayed his filing. The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) originally upheld the Immigration Judge’s decision, and S.K. appealed.

After NCLR submitted an amicus brief to the Eighth Circuit, that court agreed to send the case back to the BIA so that the Board could clarify its decision. NCLR helped to organize other LGBT, HIV/AIDS, and immigrant-rights groups, including the National Immigrant Justice Center, Immigration Equality, ACLU, AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, and International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care to submit a joint amicus brief in support of S.K. to the BIA in July 2008. In May 2009, the BIA remanded the case to the Immigration Judge to reconsider the original ruling, instructing the judge to assume that S.K. would not hide the fact that he is gay.

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