September 25, 2020

NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana filed a friend-of-the-court brief at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals asking the Court to hold, once and for all, that LGBTQ+ people subject to persecution in their home countries are protected under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Up until now, unlike a number of its sister courts, the Fifth Circuit has not issued a definitive ruling on this point.   

At the center of the case before the Court is J.D., a gay man who was beaten with stones and batons by a vigilante group in Ghana because he is gay. In Ghana, being gay is a crime. Nevertheless, the Bureau of Immigration Appeals found that J.D. was not part of a group of people eligible for protection under the INA. 

As the ACLU of Louisiana’s amicus brief underscores, forcing an asylum seeker to abandon or hide who they are, in the hope that such an existence will allow him to evade discovery, runs contrary to the language and purpose of our asylum laws. With this case, the Fifth Circuit is in a position to ensure that this country upholds the very laws put in place to help individuals like J.D.

“J.D. was subjected to brutal violence in Ghana due to his sexual orientation, and faces the very real threat of persecution and arrest if returned to his home country,” said Alanah Odoms, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “The Bureau of Immigration Appeals’ refusal to grant him asylum reflects a dated understanding of our asylum laws that the Fifth Circuit is in a position to fix.” 

Today’s brief was prepared by the ACLU of Louisiana along with partners Kelly Brilleaux and Meera Sossamon of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC.