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Goldberg Kohn Attorneys Secure Asylum for Lesbian Couple from Turkmenistan

September 25, 2019

Fred Klein, Deborah Hogan, and Danielle Johnson secured asylum for a lesbian couple from Turkmenistan who feared persecution, including imprisonment and torture, because of their sexual orientation. The couple prefers to remain anonymous as they continue to fear the persecution of their family members in Turkmenistan if their identification as lesbians, and their status as U.S. asylees, becomes known. The clients were referred to Goldberg Kohn through the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Turkmenistan, which borders Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Iran, is a former Soviet Socialist Republic with one of the worst human rights records in the world, ranking even worse than North Korea, according to the United States Department of State, the United Nations, and NGOs Human Rights Watch and Freedom House. Homosexuality is illegal, punishable by up to two years in prison, in this police state. Individuals suspected of being gay are subject to interrogation and harassment by police officers, arrest, torture, and confinement to mental hospitals, and women in particular are vulnerable to sexual violence and domestic violence both from the State and within families due to "honor killings". The Goldberg Kohn team conducted extensive research on Turkmenistan, a closed country with no press freedom and few detailed reports of the conditions for lesbian women and gay men. They also compiled a detailed analysis of the country conditions to present their clients' case to the U.S. asylum officer.

Both asylum seekers were born and raised in Turkmenistan and came to the United States on student visas. They met here in the U.S., fell in love, and married last summer. The grant of asylum means that they can now make plans for their future together, without fearing that they will be forced to return to Turkmenistan, where their lives would be in danger.

Goldberg Kohn is extremely pleased with the outcome and honored to have had an impact on the lives of its clients. The Goldberg Kohn team hopes that the materials they prepared will be useful to future asylum seekers from Turkmenistan.

Attorneys At Law

55 East Monroe Street
Suite 3300
Chicago, Illinois 60603-5792
Tel: 312.201.4000
Fax: 312.332.2196
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