A Filipino immigrant was granted a reprieve from deportation after a federal appeals court ruled that his sexual orientation and HIV status would expose him to persecution in his home country.
The Department of Homeland Security wanted to deport Dennis Vitug, 37, for a criminal conviction and for overstaying his visa. He had previously served eight months in jail for drug possession.
Vitug presented evidence that he had been raped and beaten numerous times in his native country for his effeminate behavior. He also pointed out that police would not protect him if he returned home, The Advocate reported.
"The evidence compels the conclusion that Vitug will more likely than not be persecuted if he is removed to the Philippines," wrote Judge Harry Pregerson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Vitug showed that he was beaten multiple times over a period of years," the judge added. "Vitug demonstrated that two of these beatings were severe. Vitug also demonstrated that he is gay and perceived to be effeminate and that his attackers called him names and beat him because he was gay. While Vitug did not report these attacks, he credibly testified that it is well known in the Philippines that police harass gay men and turn a blind eye to hate crimes committed against gay men. Vitug bolstered this testimony with documentary evidence of a police raid on a gay theater during which police beat and robbed the patrons."
Vitug has been in the United States since 1999.