Austria rejects asylum claim from 18-year-old Afghan because ‘gait and posture’ were not ‘homosexual’
Authorities in Austria have come under scrutiny after they reportedly rejected a gay asylum-seeker because he didn’t walk or dress “like a homosexual”.
The unnamed 18-year-old claimed he faced persecution in his native Afghanistan because of his sexuality.
But ayslum officials dismissed the claim because he did not conform to gay stereotypes, according to details leaked to the Austrian media.
“Neither your gait, your posture, nor your dress sense even come close to suggesting you are homosexual,” the regional asylum office in Wiener Neustadt wrote in an official rejection letter, according to Austria’s Falter magazine.
The official in charge of the case also suggested the man had “too few friends” to be homosexual.
“You do not have many friends according to the file. Aren’t homosexuals supposed to be more sociable?” he wrote.
The unnamed official said the fact the man had argued with other residents at an Austrian youth shelter was evidence of a “tendency to aggression you would not expect in a homosexual”.
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The letter dismissed the Afghan’s claim he had kissed other youths who were not homosexual as “utter nonsense”.
“If you had actually done this with a non-homosexual, you would have received a serious beating,” Falter quoted it as saying. “No man will allow himself to be kissed by another man if he is not homosexual. It is completely unthinkable.”
The letter also finds fault with the Afghan’s claim that he first realised he was gay at the age of 12. That would be “premature in a less sexual society, such as Afghanistan”, it alleges.
“You are not homosexual and therefore have nothing to fear when you return to Afghanistan,” the letter concludes. The Afghan has appealed against the decision.
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Homosexuality is punishable with death or long prison sentences under sharia law in Afghanistan. Gay people also face extensive social persecution and most are forced to hide their sexuality.
Austria’s interior ministry said it could not comment on a specific case, but claimed the leaked details did not “reflect the wider reality”.
“Asylum seekers must substantiate their reasons for fleeing. There are no concrete standards of proof, but the authorities must show if and why a claim was found to have been substantiated,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said it was working with the UN refugee agency to provide officials with training on LGBT issues.
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