- United States
Canadian federal judge, James Russell, has ruled an immigration officer’s judgment of a Nigerian gay applicant’s condition to be stereotype and ordered reconsideration of the case the officer had erred by failing to consider the complete picture.
Application of gay Nigerian immigrant Francis Ojo Ogunrinde seeking residency in Canada was rejected by the immigration officer on the grounds that he did not provide enough proof to establish his sexual orientation.
Francis Ojo Ogunrinde had applied for residency in Canada on the grounds that his sexual orientation was not tolerated in his native country, Nigeria, and that he cannot go back as he might be persecuted once he reaches there.
The immigration officer, considering the case, rejected his application on the grounds that he was unable to provide proper and adequate evidence of his sexual orientation of homosexuality. The officer did acknowledge the fact that such orientation is not tolerated in his native country.
In 2007, Ogunrinde had arrived in Canada from Nigeria to get asylum in the country on the grounds that he might not be tolerated in his native land.
After being refused, Ogunrinde went to Citizen and Immigration Canada for a detailed assessment of his case. He provided statements elaborating the extent of the risk he faces in Nigeria, as applicants facing possible persecution, torture or even death in their homeland can apply for the permanent residency status.
To substantiate his claim, he provided certain letters and documents. The letters he provided were from several individuals, like his roommate and landlord, confirming that Ogunrinde was gay. He also provided letters from the person he claimed to be his homosexual partner. He also produced picture of the two together.
To prove his claims about potential danger to his person in Nigeria, he also produced a letter from his friend over their telling him that the law enforcement agencies had come looking for him (Ogunrinde) due to his homosexual activities.
Ogunrinde told the immigration officials that he had joined a homosexual club called 519 Church Street Community Centre in Toronto. He showed a letter from the club confirming his continued membership and active involvement in the community.
In August of 2011, Ogunrinde received a letter from the immigration officer studying his case. The officer had rejected his claim and said that she failed to find any strong evidence from the letters or the photos of him being homosexual.
She particularly pointed to the letter that he claimed was from his gay partner. She said that there were no specific details in the letter depicting that how the two had met each other or were they carrying their relationship on sexual or romantic levels.
Judge Russell set aside the objections of the immigration officer on certain grounds. He claimed that for people who have been hiding their sexual orientation most of their lives, it is quite hard to adequately prove themselves. He said that, although he understands the difficult position of immigration officers in scrutinizing and deciding these cases, he still finds the decision to be stereotype. He emphasized the fact that certain acts and behaviors that might establish an applicant’s homosexuality are inherently personal.
Advocates of immigrant refugees suggested that such events show that the immigration officers still require proper training and guidance in order to cope with these situations. They said that proper weight should be given to all the facts. Immigration officers should equally consider the threat that the claimants face in their native countries if they returned home.
Tags: Canada, Canada immigration, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Francis Ojo Ogunrinde, Gay immigrant, Immigration