The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, in cooperation with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, is filing an amicus brief on behalf of a 17-year-old gay man who fled to the United States from Mexico after being subjected to repeated beatings and harassment by Mexican police and others.

On at least two occasions, Geovanni Hernandez-Montiel was raped by Mexican police. At another time he was attacked and beaten by others, yet the police did nothing to help him.

After fleeing to the United States, Mr. Hernandez-Montiel applied for asylum with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), explaining that he feared for his life and that his own government would not protect him. For asylum to be granted, an applicant must demonstrate that he fears returning to his country of origin due to persecution arising from his membership in a particular social group. The Board of Immigration Appeals denied his application, a ruling which is presently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.

Taylor Flynn, ACLU/SC gay and lesbian rights attorney, said "Mr. Hernandez-Montiel was repeatedly harassed, beaten and rapedincluding by the police who are supposed to protect himsimply because he is gay. Neither the police nor any other governmental official has taken a single step to protect him. To deny him asylum is to subject him to further rapes, beatings, and may ultimately cost him his life. I cannot imagine a clearer case for granting political asylum." A hearing date for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal has not been set.