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LGBTQ: Indian couple granted asylum in US after Section 377 ruling

Immigration authorities in the United States, Canada and other countries are expecting a wave of asylum applications from gay Indians after one couple were granted political asylum in the US following the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to reinstated a ban on gay sex.

Jagdish Kumar and Sukhwinder Sukhwinder entered the United States illegally through Mexico in June 2013 and were promptly placed in an immigration detention centre.

However, on 20 December – days after the Indian Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code banning gay sex was unconstitutional – the couple were granted political asylum, according to India West.

Clement Lee, staff attorney with the US advocacy group Immigration Equality, told India West that the Supreme Court’s decision was “critical” in Kumar and Sukhwinder winning their claim for political asylum.

According to India West, a US immigration tribunal was told that Haryana-born Kumar, 28, was forced by his family to marry a woman and moved to Chandigargh where he is said to have met Sukhwindher.

Another rights group, Dream Activist, which had campaigned for the couple’s release from detention claimed that Kumar “fled India after it became clear that both he and his partner were in danger. Several times Kumar was attacked by government officials, he has scars all over his body to prove it.”

Kumar and Sukhwindher have now settled in Wisconsin where gay marriage is illegal but domestic partnerships are allowed.

Activists also say that the Indian Supreme Court’s ruling will help dozens of asylum applicants to have their claims re-examined especially after former Secretary of State declared that persecution of Lesbian and Gay individuals constituted a breach of fundamental rights. 

Earlier this year a transexual Indian man in York had his asylum claim rejected, only to be granted persmission to remain in the UK following the Section 377 ruling.

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