El PASO, TX - Even as India grapples with an apex court judgement declaring homosexuality as an offence, an Indian gay couple, detained in Texas for travelling without visas, has received political asylum in the US based on claims that they were persecuted in India for their sexual identity. Jagdish Kumar and Sukhwinder Sukhwinder left India in June 2012 and crisscrossed continents before arriving on foot from Mexico at the Texas border.
The two had no visas, but immediately applied for political asylum at the border and were taken into custody by the immigration authorities. Immigration Equality – an organization that represents people from around the world fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status – fought for the release of Kumar and Sukhwinder and represented their case for political asylum. During the six-month detention, the couple was held in separate blocks, away from one another. “I cannot live without him. We came here to be together; all we want is to be together,” said Kumar in an interview. Kumar’s requests for a shared cell with Sukhwinder went unanswered, according to Immigration Equality. Now that they have been granted political asylum, Kumar and Sukhwinder are living in La Crosse, Wisc. The state has banned gay marriage, but recognizes domestic partnerships. Political asylum status grants the couple the right to live and work indefinitely in the US. The Indian Supreme Court decision was critical in deciding Kumar and Sukhwinder’s requests for political asylum. (media reports)