Gay Costa Rican man married to U.S. citizen faces deportation hearing in Houston on Thursday

Gay Costa Rican immigrant David Gonzalez, an accountant who is fighting to stay in Texas with his husband, U.S. citizen Mario Ramirez, faces a deportation hearing Thursday morning in Houston. Gonzalez and Ramirez, who’ve been together for six years and live in the Houston suburb of Humble, were married in California in 2008. But Gonzalez has overstayed his tourist visa, and because of the Defense of Marriage Act, he cannot apply for a Green Card based on the couple’s marriage. If the judge doesn’t agree to put his deportation on hold Thursday, Gonzalez’s attorney plans an asylum claim based on the fact that he fled Costa Rica in 2000 to get away from an abusive ex-lover who is on the country’s police force. The Houston Chronicle reports:

For years, Gonzalez said, he dreaded this day, but his hopes have been buoyed by a spate of high-profile cases involving same-sex couples and by the support of Ramirez, his “soul mate.”

“I am not afraid anymore,” Gonzalez said. “I am glad this day is coming — whatever the outcome.”

The Houston case follows on the heels of several recent decisions that have — at least temporarily — spared gay and lesbians in long-term relationships with U.S. citizens from deportation. On Wednesday, a San Francisco immigration judge postponed for two years the deportation proceedings against a Venezuelan man married to a U.S. citizen.

In June, the U.S. government canceled deportation proceedings for a Venezuelan man in New Jersey married to an American man — a high-profile case that immigrant and gay advocates said signaled a major shift toward greater leniency for same-sex couples in immigration proceedings.

“Certainly the families and couples we work with are more hopeful today than really at any prior point,” said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the national advocacy group Immigration Equality.

—  John Wright

In wake of one activist’s murder, another faces deportation back to homophobic Uganda

As mourners in Uganda on Friday laid to rest gay activist David Kato, bludgeoned to death on Wednesday in his home in Kampala, in Britian several members of Parliament were calling on their government to halt the imminent deportation of Brenda Namigadde, a 29-year-old lesbian activist who was supposed to be sent back to Uganda tonight.

Same-gender sexual contact is illegal in Uganda, with those convicted facing sentences of up to 14 years in prison. Some government officials have in the last year been pushing to make the laws regarding homosexuality in Uganda even harsher, including death sentences in some cases.

According to reports by the BBC, Namigadde, who fled Uganda for the United Kingdom in 2002, said she was beaten and victimized in her home country because of her sexual orientation. However, when she applied for asylum, British immigration officials denied her application, saying that “an immigration judge found on the evidence before him that Ms. Namigadde was not homosexual.”

Ugandan MP David Bahati, the main force behind the death-to-gays legislation there, has said that Namigadde must either “repent or reform” or she will be arrested on her return, according to reports in The Guardian.

Although Namigadde’s first appeal asking for an injunction to stop her deportation was denied, her lawyers continue to work to have the deportation stopped.

Among the MPs calling on immigration officials to halt Namigadde’s deportation is Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith where Namigadde lived while in England. Slaughter said, “Whatever the circumstances surrounding Ms Namigadde’s presence in Britain, it is clear that she cannot be deported to Uganda at present. Both the public mood and the official stance towards homosexuals in Uganda are lethal at the moment — we should not be contemplating sending my constituents back to a society where she will be in grave danger of her life.”

—  admin