Refugee Voices – CJ From Peru
Protecting the persecuted is a core American ideal. At Human Rights First, we help asylum seekers who fled persecution and violence navigate the complex U.S. legal system by matching them with high-quality pro bono attorneys. Explore CJ's inspiring journey from persecution to freedom.
Fish & Richardson P.C.
CJ is a gay man from Peru. As a child he was physically abused for perceived “feminine” behavior, and he was taunted and harassed in all areas of his community. As a teenager at school, he was beaten by other students and he also experienced beatings in the streets. Worried for his life and safety, CJ’s mother encouraged him to report these incidents to the police. The police not only did nothing to protect CJ from these attacks, but they implied that because he was gay, he deserved this treatment. When he couldn’t take the abuse anymore, CJ fled to the United States. He hoped that he could live his life freely and openly here, without fear of constant verbal and physical attacks due to his sexual orientation.
CJ’s case was taken by Audrey Powers, then an associate at Fish & Richardson P.C. She successfully represented CJ at the asylum office, where she had to make a difficult argument for an exception to the one year filing deadline. Thanks to Audrey’s hard work and preparation, CJ was granted asylum and he now has his green card.
“ON THE DAY OF MY INTERVIEW, ONE OF THE PERSONS HERE FROM HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST CAME WITH ME…AND FROM THE FIRST I FELT LIKE I COULD TALK TO THEM ABOUT MY STORY AND WHAT I HAD BEEN THROUGH MY WHOLE LIFE.”
HUMAN RIGHTS IN PERU
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Peru is widespread, culturally sanctioned, and largely underreported for fear of violence or additional discrimination. LGBT youth are frequently targets of severe bullying that contribute to higher rates of suicide than for straight youth.
From January to August 2013, seven murders and two suicides of LGBT persons were reported to the Peruvian government. On August 15, 2013, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights released a statement reiterating its deep concern about the high levels of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons and urged the government to adopt measures to prevent these acts and protect LGBT persons from human rights abuses.
LAWYERS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“When I met my attorney Audrey, I felt immediately connected to her. She was very helpful, very professional, and because I became close to her as a person she made me comfortable telling my story.”
Human Rights First began working with Fish & Richardson in 2010. The firm not only supported Audrey’s pro bono representation of CJ during the course of the asylum process but supported his application to become a lawful permanent resident. CJ successfully became a green card holder and is now living a successful life in Chicago, Illinois.
“I think the assistance provided by the attorneys at Human Rights First made it very easy for me to understand the milestones, what the timing deadlines were—all the things that lawyers are concerned about when they are practicing in a new area of the law. The staff at Human Rights First did a very good job of guiding me through the process..”
— Audrey Powers