Afghan teenager denied asylum in Austria because he didn’t ‘act’ gay enough

‘Neither your walk, nor your behaviour nor your clothing give the slightest indication that you could be gay,’ authority's decision reads

 

Saturday 18 August 2018 14:28
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A participant attends the Rainbow Parade march, bringing together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people, on June 15, 2013 in Vienna
A participant attends the Rainbow Parade march, bringing together lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people, on June 15, 2013 in Vienna

A gay Afghan teenager who was seeking asylum in Austria because he feared persecution had his application denied because the authorities said he did not act like a stereotypical gay man, according to reports.

An official in Lower Austria found no grounds for fear of persecution, citing the 18-year-old’s walk, behaviour and clothing, Vienna-based refugee organisation Queer Base reported.

The organisation say the teenage boy migrated to Austria as a minor, but kept all other details of his life and journey confidential at his request.

But after the teenager applied for asylum, the document outlining the decision quoted an official as saying that his claim that he was gay was not believable based on how he had acted while living in Austria.

“Neither your walk, nor your behaviour nor your clothing give the slightest indication that you could be gay,” says the decision, which was more than 100 pages.

“They reported that you frequently got into fights with roommates,” it said. “You clearly have the potential to be aggressive, which would not be expected in a homosexual.”

It also said the young man was not described as having many friends while in Austria. “Don’t homosexuals tend to be rather sociable?” it said.

Human Rights Watch said in its 2017 report on Afghanistan that the country’s law criminalises consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and the report cited harassment, violence and detention of gay people by the police.

While laws in places like Austria are much more gay-friendly, LGBT refugees often face challenges coming out, even if it would help their cases for seeking asylum, gay-rights experts say.

The teenager was interviewed for his application in late April and the decision was handed down in early May.

The decision gained international attention this week when Vienna weekly newsmagazine Falter published details of his case.

Patrick Dörr, who runs Queer Refugees, a German state-sponsored program for LGBT refugees coming to Germany, called the decision in the Afghan teenager’s case “scandalous misconduct”.

“It just makes you shake your head,“ he said.

The New York Times

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