The downside of marriage equality for one gay Mexican

Well, it looks like LGBT rights advances in Mexico aren’t a plus for all Mexicans.

At least not for Efren Neri-Garcia, who fled Mexico in 1994 and sought asylum in the United States claiming he was persecuted for being gay. Eighteen years later, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the US has the right to deport him.

The immigration judge who ruled on the case before it reached the appeals court said that Neri-Garcia’s experience explains why he initially fled Mexico; his claim might have been valid when he first came to the United States. The appeals court summarized:

[Neri-Garcia] testified to discrimination,  threats, and physical attacks by family members, fellow students, and police officers. Nearly three decades ago police officers arrested him for a theft he did not commit  and then tortured him to extract a confession. Following his conviction for that crime in 1984, he was incarcerated in a penitentiary in Guadalajara, where he was housed with psychiatric patients because he is gay.

But the judge “discounted” Neri-Garcia’s claims that violence against gays remains so prevalent in Mexico that he can’t return. This is partly because it looks like Neri-Garcia’s lawyers presented no information on hate crimes or police harassment that would substantiate them. The only evidence was Neri-Garcia’s testimony and the testimony of another gay man who also fled Mexico decades ago.

But more importantly, the appeals court summarized, “The [Department of Homeland Security] established, by a preponderance of the evidence, a fundamental change in circumstances in Mexico such that Neri-Garcia’s life or freedom would not now be threatened as a result of his sexual orientation.” Prime evidence of this change was the fact that “Mexico City had legalized both gay marriage and adoption by gay couples; and the Mexican Supreme Court required all Mexican states to recognize gay marriages performed in those states where it was permitted.


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