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Court accepted gay asylum seeker before claiming boyfriend isn’t ‘effeminate’ enough

Nick Duffy August 23, 2019
LGBT+ rights campaigners complain of a "culture of disbelief” in the Home Office's treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers.

LGBT+ rights campaigners complain of a "culture of disbelief” in the Home Office's treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

A court that rejected a gay asylum seeker on the grounds that he is not ‘effeminate’ enough had previously accepted a near-identical request from the man’s boyfriend.

It emerged this month that a gay man, whose identity is being kept private, had his request for asylum in the UK rejected by the first-tier immigration tribunal in London on the grounds that he did not have a gay “demeanour”.

However, Legal Cheek reports that a different judge at the same court had previously accepted a near-identical asylum claim from the man’s partner.

Gay couple’s asylum applications reached opposite outcomes.

Barrister Rehana Popal told the outlet of the different outcomes: “This demonstrates the inconsistent decision making in the first-tier tribunal when considering something so subjective as sexuality.”

The controversial decision to reject the man’s asylum claim, which has sparked calls for a systemic review, has since been overturned by the Upper Tribunal, which has sent the case back for a fresh hearing.

Popal accused the  judge of relying on “16th century” stereotypes, after he reportedly ruled that the man’s claim was not true because he didn’t “look around the room in an effeminate manner”.

Asylum: LGBT+ rights campaigners complain of a culture of disbelief in the Home Office's treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers
LGBT+ rights campaigners complain of a “culture of disbelief” in the Home Office’s treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers.(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

She told The Guardian: “He has taken a stereotype, used it as a benchmark and compared my client to it.

“That is totally wrong. You do not need to dress a certain way, carry yourself a certain way or look a certain way to be homosexual.

“The only thing that makes a person gay is if they are attracted to someone of the same gender.”

Calls for review of LGBT+ asylum claims.

Opposition figures have called for the way LGBT+ asylum claims are processed to be overhauled.

Plaid Cymru shadow minister for social justice Leanne Wood AM said: “LGBT+ people seeking asylum in the UK face serious discrimination within the system.

“As part of the process of being recognised as a refugee they must ‘prove their sexuality’ – a concept in any other scenario would be considered absurd and offensive.

“In many cases, the only ‘evidence’ a person might have is their own testimony and to open up to a complete stranger who has your life in their hands about such personal details of your private life is both intimidating and difficult.

“Often, even if a person has written or physical evidence, the Home Office will dismiss or ignore whilst suspecting asylum seekers of lying about their sexuality.

“This is why Pride is still needed. It is a celebration but also a protest at the ongoing discrimination that LGBT+ people still face. Nobody should have to suffer the humiliation and persecution the Home Office currently subject LGBT+ asylum seekers to.”

More: asylum, asylum seeker, Gay, LGBT

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