Gay Ethiopian Teenager Faces Deportation, Persecution In Homeland
A 19 year old gay Ethiopian man is currently facing deportation by federal agents in Boston after he he stopped attending school and consequently lost his student visa, according to The Boston Globe.
Immigration officials arrested the young man in January. Though he appeared twice before an immigration judge last month it is unclear whether officials involved in the case are aware of the man’s sexual orientation, which he posted about on a "public forum," and the dangers he would face should he return home to Ethiopia. Those close to the young man, whose identity has been left undisclosed at this time, are concerned for his safety should he be sent back to Ethiopia given the nation’s strong anti-gay attitudes:
“This is a very serious deal,” said the student’s uncle, who spoke on condition of anonymity from Canada. “Back in his country, it will be like death.” […]
Two people in Worcester who know the young man — Todd Williams, an openly gay Republican candidate for state senator, and his campaign manager, Mesfin Beshir, a nonprofit director from Ethiopia — said in separate interviews that the student recently told them he is gay.
Williams and Beshir said they met him shortly before his arrest in January, when he asked to stay with Beshir’s family during winter break.
“He’s openly gay . . . He blatantly told me, ‘I’m gay,’ ” Williams said in a telephone interview. “If he’s returned or deported to Ethiopia, I’m in fear of what may happen to him.”
Beshir said the man seemed to suffer emotional troubles, sometimes seeming irritated and shutting himself in the guest room. He said he worried for the man’s safety if forced to return to Ethiopia.
“Culturally, he will be an outcast,” said Beshir […]
In Ethiopia, according to the State Department, gay people have been jailed, interrogated, and allegedly abused, and many reported anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts. Amnesty International said gay people face up to 15 years in prison in that country for aggravated offenses.
The young man, whose actions of late have seemed “erratic” to some, will also undergo a mental health review that was requested by the immigration judge presiding over his case. The 19-year-old has not officially requested asylum, which detainees may apply for if they fear returning home, however “lawyers say many foreigners are reluctant to confide in their jailers.”
Previously we reported that gay Ethiopians may soon face the death penalty for so-called aggravated offenses. Recently, fellow African nations Uganda and Nigeria enacted harsh anti-gay laws that are already beginning to have dire consequences for LGBT individuals.