Columbia Law School Wins Asylum for Openly Gay Mauritanian Man

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Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic has won asylum in the United States for Ahmed A., a gay man who feared persecution because of his sexual orientation if he had been forced to return to his native Mauritania. This is Columbia University’s second win this year for the international LGBT community. In July they worked to get asylum for a gay Uzbekistan man.

The grant of asylum, issued by the US Department of Homeland Security, highlights the perils for gay and lesbian people who live in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country in West Africa. In Mauritania, homosexuality is punishable by death—both by the government and by the powerful tribal communities that regulate Mauritanian society.

“For nearly 40 years, our client, Ahmed, never felt free,” explains Jane Kim, a clinic student who worked on the case. “His entire life, he changed his behavior to avoid suspicions, beatings, and death by his father, his tribe, and by the Mauritanian government for being gay, for being himself. He lived a private life, trusting very few.”

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