Alvaro Orozco, a gay artist who fled Nicaragua due to his sexual orientation, has been granted the right to remain in Canada.
A gay artist from Nicaragua, whose asylum claim was rejected because he had not been in a same-sex relationship, has been granted a reprieve by immigration officials, reports the Star
Alvaro Orozco, who was to be deported Thursday, was released from immigration detention Wednesday after Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued him permanent resident status on humanitarian grounds.
“I am free now,” Orozco said after his release from the Rexdale holding centre. “I feel safe. I finally belong somewhere. There are no more struggles. I do not have to hide anymore.”
The immigration papers came six years after the runaway, now 25, came to Toronto in 2005, via the United States, to flee persecution and domestic abuse in Nicaragua due to his sexual orientation.
In 1998, Orozco, at age 12, left his family in Nicaragua where homosexuality had been a criminal offence until three years ago. His mother was the only family member he kept in touch with, but she died of cancer in 2008.
Orozco’s asylum claim was denied in 2007 after an Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator questioned his sexual orientation. He told the hearing he had never had sex or pursued a relationship with another man.
Orozco stayed in Canada illegally, awaiting his humanitarian application. He worked under the table to support himself and became a photographer and painter known in Toronto’s gay community.