Indonesian Gay Man Seeking Asylum in United States

Los Angeles, CA—2.16.2011

Anton Tanumihardja, of Philadelphia, has just received a stay on his deportation proceedings after being told he had his asylum claim denied and would have to return to his native Indonesia. Anton, who is openly gay here in the United States, fears that he will be persecuted for his homosexuality in Indonesia and will not be able to live an openly gay lifestyle without being targeted for his sexual orientation.

Anton has been in the United States for 8 years after entering on a visitor visa in 2002, but he was scheduled to return to Indonesia the night of Valentine’s Day when federal immigration officials issued a stay of deportation just three hours before his flight was supposed to take off. After Anton’s tourist visa expired, he filed for political asylum, claiming that he would be persecuted in Indonesia which he claims is very anti-gay. He was able to receive a work permit while his case was being reviewed, but his claim was ultimately denied. In addition to being Gay, Anton is ethnically Chinese and Catholic which means that he is an extreme minority in heavily Muslim Indonesia.

According to Anton’s attorney, Lavi Soloway, “Our whole immigration system, 80% of the cases are based on family unification, it’s about keeping the family together,” Soloway said. “But this just doesn’t register with the LGBT community. It’s a reflection of anti-gay discrimination.” Anton’s case sits at the intersection of immigration reform and gay rights reform here in the United States.

In Anton’s case, because he cannot legally marry his partner, Brian Anderson, who is a US citizen, Anderson cannot sponsor Anton for residency. If Anton and Brian were a heterosexual couple, there would be more options for keeping Anton in the United States, but such options do not exist for homosexual partners. For the time being, the stay on deportation will keep Anton here while his asylum case is reviewed, but it is not permanent and he will have to win his appeal in order to earn the ability to stay in the United States.

Source: CNN News

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