A gay Jamaican
man who feared persecution if forced to leave the United
States for his home country was granted asylum Thursday by
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
grateful to the United States government for saving my
life," Ven Messam said in a statement released
by the Columbia Law School's Sexuality and Gender Law
Clinic, which assisted him with his case. "My
life in Jamaica was constantly in danger, with angry mobs
carrying machetes, stones, knives, and guns,
threatening to kill me because I am gay. When I tried
to contact the police for help, the police instead
threatened to arrest me and told me to leave the country if
I wanted to stay safe."
referred to the clinic by Immigration Equality, a national
organization that works for immigration rights for LGBT
people who show need for assistance.
Four of the
program's eight law students -- Simrin Parmar, Jennifer
Stark, Jonathan Lieberman, and Eileen Plaza -- have spent
months providing legal assistance and research for
Messam's asylum application. (The Advocate)