Gay Pinoy Spared from Deportation

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LOS ANGELES – A gay Filipino man won a reprieve from deportation after a US federal appeals court reversed an immigration judge’s decision to deport him. Judge Harry Pregerson of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on July 24 granted 37-year-old Dennis Quiambao Vitug’s petition to remain in the US, after finding that Vitug likely faces harassment and maltreatment in the Philippines because of his homosexuality and HIV-positive status.

“The evidence compels the conclusion that Vitug will more likely than not be persecuted if he is removed to the Philippines,” according to court documents. Vitug has fought to remain in the US after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sought to deport him on the grounds that he overstayed his visa and was convicted of a drug crime, according to court documents. Vitug spent eight months in jail in 2007 for drug possession. Upon release, he was ordered to appear in immigration court but he immediately filed for asylum, withholding of removal and relief from torture.

According to court records, Vitug came to the US in 1999 and remained here, overstaying his tourist visa. Prior to arriving, Vitug told the court, he lived in the Philippines where he experienced harassment, and bullying from classmates and family members because of his “effeminate behavior and homosexuality.” Vitug told the court, he was sexually abused at the age of nine, drugged and raped by a man in Manila at the age of 17, and harassed and threatened by police officers who targeted him because of his sexual orientation.

When he arrived to the US, Vitug said he became addicted to drugs. In 2005, he was diagnosed with HIV. The Board of Immigration Appeals found that “Vitug failed to meet his burden of proof” on his claims of abuse and rape. - See more at: