Manatt Obtains Asylum for LGBTQIA+ Jamaican Client

A Manatt team successfully secured asylum for an LGBTQIA+ Jamaican man after an eight-year process before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The asylum seeker—referred to as OW—fled his home country after a lifetime of physical and sexual abuse that culminated in threats to his life by his own law enforcement co-workers because of his sexual orientation. 

Sex between men has been outlawed in Jamaica since 1864, and anyone convicted under this law could be imprisoned for up to ten years simply for engaging in consensual sex with another man. Despite these laws surrounding homosexuality and negative interactions with authorities, OW joined the police force hoping to bring about positive change for how the police treated the LGBTQIA+ community.  

OW continued to serve as a police officer despite facing repeated instances of discrimination because of his sexual orientation. However, once his fellow officers threatened his life, he knew he could no longer safely stay in his country.  

In its brief to USCIS, the Manatt team presented OW’s experiences from childhood to adulthood of repeated incidents of bullying, violence and persecution from his own family, violent mobs and the police. After applying for asylum, OW waited more than seven years for USCIS to schedule his asylum interview.  

Three months following that interview, OW was granted asylum and can now remain in the U.S. to openly live his life as a proud gay man. OW has found employment in law enforcement and looks forward to starting a new chapter where he can continue a life of service.  

The case was referred to Manatt by long time pro bono partner Immigration Equality in 2015. The Manatt team representing OW included Alexandra McCown, Emma JogerstSirena Castillo and Michael Kolber.



pursuant to New York DR 2-101(f)

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