Kerry Requests Asylum From Obama in Case of Gay Man
BOSTON (AP) — Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, has asked the Obama administration to grant asylum to a gay man who married an American citizen in Massachusetts and was later forced to return to Brazil.
The man, Genesio Oliveira, has been separated from his husband, Tim Coco, since August 2007, when he left the country after his request for asylum and an appeal were denied.
Mr. Oliveira asked for asylum in 2002, saying he was raped and attacked by a physician as a teenager in Brazil and feared persecution because of his sexuality. The Associated Press does not typically name rape victims, but Mr. Oliveira has spoken openly about his case.
In a letter sent Thursday to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Mr. Kerry said that Immigration Judge Francis L. Cramer had found Mr. Oliveira’s testimony to be credible and his fear of living in Brazil genuine. However, the judge denied the asylum claim, saying he “was never physically harmed” by the rape, the letter said. Mr. Kerry called the ruling “outrageous.”
In Brazil, judges have granted foreign partners in same-sex relationships the right to residence and have authorized civil unions that bestow many benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. But many segments of society remain openly hostile to gay men and lesbians.
The Department of Justice said Mr. Holder would review the letter and respond to Mr. Kerry, but officials would not comment.
In an interview Friday, Mr. Kerry said: “Nobody’s asking to overturn or change the federal law. This is really a humanitarian situation that deserves an appropriate focus.”
Mr. Kerry has co-sponsored a bill that would allow gay men and lesbians from other countries to become legal residents based on their permanent relationships with American citizens.
Immigrants can apply for residency if they marry American citizens, but the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages under the Defense of Marriage Act, and Mr. Oliveira’s request to remain in the United States based on his relationship with Mr. Coco was denied last month.
Mr. Oliveira said he and Mr. Coco filed an appeal of that decision on Friday.The couple met in 2002 and married in 2005.