9th Circuit Remands Ethiopian Gay Torture Claim for Further Consideration

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has remanded a gay Ethiopian’s Convention against Torture (CAT) claim to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to consider the evidence he submitted establishing that country conditions have worsened for homosexuals since the time the Board denied him relief in 2007, in Agonafer v. Sessions, 2017 WL 2698257, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11190 (9th Cir., June 23, 2017).

Petitioner has lived in the United States since 1980, and he had been a lawful permanent resident since 1990. Following a series of criminal convictions, he was placed in removal proceedings. He was initially granted relief; however, after several appeals by the Department of Homeland Security, the BIA denied his applications for relief in 2007, including his claim that he would be tortured if returned to Ethiopia as a homosexual man. (Persons who are removable because of criminal activity in the U.S. may still seek to remain in the country under the CAT treaty by showing that they would be subject to torture or serious harm in their home country.) In 2013, the Petitioner filed a motion to reopen his CAT claim based upon evidence changed country conditions. He submitted substantial documentation relating to the worsened treatment of homosexuals in Ethiopia after 2007. The BIA found that “the evidence reflects ongoing and substantially similar treatment of homosexuals that existed at the time of respondent’s hearing” and that Petitioner had not “alleged receiving any specific threat,” refusing to reconsider his claim.

For the full story, access the Summer 2017 issue of LGBT Law Notes.