A homosexual man seeking asylum in the UK was told by a judge that he was not “effeminate” enough to be gay and therefore not entitled to asylum protections, according to The Independent.
The appeals judge told him he did not possess a gay “demeanour” and did not “look around the room in an effeminate manner”, according to the man’s barrister, Rehana Popal.
The man, who could not be named due to an anonymity order, is to have his case retried “after a judge in the Upper Tribunal found that the original determination contained a ‘material error of law’”.
Popal said this is not the first she has seen an asylum seeker refused on the grounds of sexuality, often citing “absurd” reasons to refute the seeker’s sexuality, and that the decisions are often upheld by appeals judges.
“The system has definitely become harsher in recent years. The quality of decision-making has reduced. You come across decisions that are genuinely absurd. You think, how did anyone write this?” she said.
“One that comes up a lot is when they say to gay Muslim men that being gay is unacceptable in Islam, and therefore it’s implausible that they can be gay and Muslim. Or when they say to a woman who was previously in an arranged marriage with a man that she therefore cannot be gay.”
Backing up Popal’s account was Leila Zadeh, executive director of UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, who said this particular man’s case was not an isolated incident.
Zadeh listed several other cases where judges refuted someone’s sexual orientation because of “their hairstyles, their sexual behaviour or their religious beliefs.”
“The biggest challenge facing LGBTQI+ people in need of international protection is proving their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics,” she added.
The Independent noted a study from the University of Bristol which found that “LGBT+ refugees were more likely to have their asylum applications accepted if they acted up to ‘flamboyant’ stereotypes and fit into the western notions of queer/gay lifestyles, such as attending Pride marches or visiting gay bars.”
Supporting this study, official numbers from the Home Office revealed that 78 percent of LGBT+ asylum were rejected in 2017, which amounted to a 52 percent increase over two years.
“When [the Home Office] makes these decisions, it’s people’s lives they’re playing with. It’s damaging and dangerous. They should be doing this with great care, but they’re not,” Popal said.