Canadian immigration rejects case of Mexican gay man

BY admin

May 07 2004 12:00 AM ET

The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board rejected the asylum case of a Mexican gay man, stating that he is not "visibly effeminate" and therefore not vulnerable to persecution in his homeland of Mexico, reports The [Toronto] Globe and Mail.

The 30-year-old business graduate, Fernando Enrique Rivera, who immigrated to Canada four years ago, believes the IRB's decision shows a stereotypical understanding of homosexuality. Last month the federal court upheld the IRB ruling, and now Rivera could be deported if his final appeal, a humanitarian and compassionate review, fails.

"I know some gay refugees who put on lipstick and dressed effeminately because they thought it would help their case. But that is not who I am," Rivera told The Globe and Mail on Tuesday. "You don't choose to be gay. It's not like being a vegetarian. It's a very complex thing."

Rivera feared he would lose his job as a statistician with Puerto Vallarta's police force if his manager found out about his sexuality. He said a lesbian coworker was fired after her sexual orientation was revealed.

The IRB is struggling to process an overflow in claims filed on the basis of sexual orientation. In the past three years roughly 2,500 people from 75 countries have sought refuge in Canada. Nearly 25% of them are from Mexico, a seemingly gay-friendly country with an annual gay pride parade, gay politicians, and legislative changes protecting homosexuals.

However, Rivera says conditions for gays in Mexico are not as favorable as they may appear. The country's strong machismo culture and traditional family values forced him to hide his sexuality. Rivera said he fled the country after he was repeatedly the victim of police extortion. He thought Canada would offer him a haven and that he would not have to pretend to be effeminate to improve his chances with the refugee process.

"I believed in the system, and I still do," Rivera said. "Canada is an open society with so much diversity. I can't go back to Mexico to lead a life of deception. I want to be in a society that accepts me the way I am."

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