A federal appeals court has granted a gay, HIV-positive Filipino man’s petition to remain in the US instead of being deported to the Philippines where he faced likely abuse.
Dennis Vitug had been raped and endured other persecution in his native land and likely faced more if he had been forced to return there for the first time since 1999, according to a ruling this week from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, California.
The court agreed that Vitug, 37, should be granted asylum because he was at risk from police, government and even his own family.
Their ruling reversed an earlier decision by The Bureau of Immigration Appeals which had disregarded an immigration judge’s findings and did not believe Vitug’s claims were supported by evidence.
‘The evidence compels the conclusion that Vitug will more likely than not be persecuted if he is removed to the Philippines,’ Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the appellate panel.
Pregerson added that Vitug had ‘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 was able to bolster this testimony with documentary evidence of a police raid on a gay theater during which police beat and robbed the patrons.
Vitung faced deportation after serving eight months in jail for drug possession. He had also overstayed his visa. He first made a request for asylum in 2007.
He told the court that he was suffered years of sexual abuse at a young age and was relentlessly teased and bullied by classmates for being effeminate. He was just 15 when he was left to fend for himself in Manila.
Vitung was allegedly beaten and robbed five times, drugged and raped, harassed by police and his fellow citizens, and unable to find work, according to CourthouseNews.com.
He came to the US and found work as an assistant designer and auditor. He continued to work and study but he struggled with drug addiction which led to rehab and later his arrest.