Judge, citing intolerance in Jamaica, lets lesbian stay in U.S.

In an extremely rare move, a Jamaican lesbian living in south Florida has avoided deportation — for now — after an immigration judge allowed the 29-year-old to stay in the United States because her sexual orientation could cause her to be tortured in her home country.

''The general atmosphere in Jamaica is a feeling of no tolerance towards homosexuals in general, and as such, . . . the respondent's life is definitely at risk,'' Immigration Judge Irma Lopez-Defillo said, according to court documents.

Lopez-Defillo initially ordered that the woman be deported because of a pair of drug convictions. In the same ruling, the judge deferred the order based on the climate of intolerance in Jamaica. Nichole checked in with immigration authorities on Thursday regarding her order of supervision. She is due to report back in three months.

The woman was released from a detention center in Puerto Rico in June and is staying with her parents in Sunrise. Nichole asked that her first and last names not be used in order to spare her parents from embarrassment. Nichole is her middle name.

The judge's decision comes as the issue of homophobic violence in Jamaica has reemerged as a pressing concern among rights groups. In January, a mob broke into a house in a centrally located town and slashed the occupants, sending two to the hospital, Human Rights Watch reported. One was severely injured and the other is missing and feared dead. The men were suspected of being gay.

Read the full story at