An immigration judge who previously denied a gay man's asylum bid on the grounds that he could conceal his sexual orientation if he returned to his native Mexico reversed the decision Tuesday.
In allowing Jorge Sota Vega to remain in the United States, Judge John D. Taylor said that gays should not be required to dress or act a certain way to avoid persecution and that Vega's lawyers proved he would be at risk if he were deported to Mexico.
Vega's case attracted attention from national gay rights groups when Taylor denied his application and said that Vega could live safely in Mexico because he did not look gay and could hide the fact that he was.
"It seemed to us this is a real double standard," said Jon W. Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal. "Courts don't deny asylum to someone based on their political beliefs by saying, 'If you just didn't tell other people what you believed, you would be fine.'"
Vega, 38, lived in Tuxpan and Guadalajara before he fled to the United States. He said in his 2004 asylum bid that he was beaten by police and told by authorities in Mexico he would be killed.
Now a New York resident, Vega appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The San Francisco-based court sent the case back to immigration court last year.