Mladen Todorovic, the gay Serbian hoping to secure asylum in the U.S., was denied refugee status because the immigration judge overseeing his case did not think he appeared gay enough. Thankfully Todorovic just won his appeal.
In overturning the immigration court’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit noted “the Court studied the demeanor of this individual very carefully throughout his testimony in Court today, and this gentleman does not appear to be overtly gay.” Further: “[I]t is not readily apparent to a person who would see this gentleman for the first time that, that is the case, since he bears no effeminate traits or any other trait that would mark him as a homosexual.” Because he would not be “immediately recognized” as a homo, the court said, he should have no problem returning to Serbia, where he was persecuted by individuals and pleas for government protection fell on deaf ears.
Evidently, you must give testimony with a lisp to stay in the country.
The Appeals Court declared “[o]ne clearly impermissible form of conjecture and speculation, sometimes disguised as a ‘demeanor’ determination, is the use of stereotypes as a substitute for evidence.”
Todorovic, who’s been in the U.S. since 2003 and applied for asylum in 2003, will receive a new hearing.