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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Community rallies to save active member of Latino LGBT community from deportation

by AIDS ACTION NOW


Herberth Menendez, a gay refugee claimant living with HIV faces
deportation to Mexico despite facing violence, stigma and discrimination
if sent back.

TORONTO, NOVEMBER 8th 2011 – Herbeth Menedez’s friends, concerned
community members, Latinos Positivos and AIDS ACTION NOW hold a vigil of
support and demonstration at Yonge and Dundas Square on November 8, 2011
at 6pm.

Herberth Menendez is a 30-year-old Mexican citizen who immigrated to
Canada in 2007. He left Mexico to claim refugee status in Canada because
he feared for his life due to the intense discrimination and threats of
physical violence he faced for being openly gay and living with HIV.
Despite having submitted detailed proof of the homophobia and HIV
discrimination he has faced in Mexico, Herberth is currently in the final
stages of his Pre-Removal Risk Assessment Application. His lawyer has told
him there is very little likelihood of his application will be accepted.

“Canada has a record of deporting immigrants from many Spanish-speaking
countries, including Mexico, despite the fact that they have proof they
will face violence in their home country if they return” says Claudia
Medina of Latinos Positivos. The Mexican Government continues to put up a
façade for Canada that homophobic murders do not take place there.
“Despite what the government promotes, we sadly hear of cases very often
where gay men have been assassinated in Mexico for their sexual
orientation or HIV status” Medina states.

Herberth left Mexico to escape persecution from his neighbours and his own
father because he was openly gay and is living with HIV. He was thrown out
of his family home by his father and told never to return or he would
personally kill him. When Herberth found out he was HIV positive, he
suffered discrimination by friends and family and dealt with the intense
stigma that exists in the medical community when he sought out health care
in Mexico. Nurses and doctors would disclose his HIV-positive status
without Herberth’s consent in front of other patients in the clinic
without any conscious effort of respecting his confidentiality.

“I came to Canada to try and get support and leave the fear,
discrimination and stigma I faced in Mexico,” says Herberth Menendez. “In
Toronto, I have found my family and community at Latinos Positivos” states
Menendez. Members of Latinos Positivos, an organization dedicated to
supporting members of the Latin community who are living with HIV have now
become Herberth’s family in Canada.

Herberth is an active member of his community and has volunteered for
Latinos Positivos since his arrival and in 2011, Herberth’s drag persona
Ashanti Silman was crowned Miss Latinos Positivos. In this role, Herberth
has performed at and supported several fundraisers for the organization
and helped raise funds for and awareness of their programming. Most
recently he contributed efforts towards the production of a pamphlet about
HIV and stigma in the Latin community with the Centre for Spanish Speaking
Peoples and Latinos Positivos.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

·      Herberth will be available for interviews starting at 6pm at Yonge
and Dundas Square. Contact Alex McClelland for more details: 416 704 8504

·      For more information on our campaign to save Herberth from
deportation email: aidsactionnowtoronto@gmail.com

·      Facebook support page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Herberth-Menedez-From-Deportation/136140969822209?sk=wall

·      Facebook event page for November 8th Vigil:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=279597915405702

Latinos Positivos aims to help empower Latino People Living with HIV and
AIDS to move beyond their diagnosis and establish a supportive and
accepting Latino community within the AIDS movement. More information:
http://www.latinospositivos.blogspot.com.

AIDS ACTION NOW seeks to promote the human rights of people living with
HIV and/or who are co-infected with Hepatitis C.  More information:
http://www.aidsactionnow.org/

-30-

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