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In 1994 former Attorney General Janet Reno decided that a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) case, Matter of Toboso-Alfonso would be considered precedent, meaning that the BIA, Immigration Judges, and asylum officers had to follow its ruling in the future.

Toboso-Alfonso recognized persecution based on sexual orientation as a potential ground upon which to apply for asylum, paving the way for many successful asylum applications on this ground thereafter.

Since then there have also been some (though much fewer in number) non-precedential cases granting asylum based on transgender identity as well as some cases (also fewer in number) granting asylum based on HIV status.