An Afghan teenager was told by Austrian officials that his asylum bid was rejected in the most brutal and homophobic way possible.
The 18-year-old, unnamed Afghan man came to Austria as a minor in 2016 to escape persecution in the ultra-conservative country of Afghanistan. He applied for asylum, citing his sexual orientation.
However, undoubtedly to his shock, it seemed his claim was not believed by the Austrian interior ministry, reported the Falter newspaper. In fact, they presented the asylum seeker with a list of stereotypes on why he couldn’t be gay.
In the words of the official, “neither your walk, your affectations nor your clothes give even the slightest indication that you could be homosexual.”
The official also pointed out the man was embroiled in a fight with other migrants in his hostel, something gays apparently don’t do, according to him.
The official said the “potential for aggression” “wouldn’t be expected from a homosexual.”
According to GLAAD, the word “homosexual” itself now has derogatory connotation, implying the official’s disdain for the man.
The ministry official also had an issue with the Afghan man being a bit of a loner.
He said the applicant had few friends and preferred to spend his time alone or with few people and asked the Afghan, “Aren’t homosexuals rather social?”
When the Afghan claimed he had kissed straight men, the official completely rejected the claim, telling him if he had done that with “a non-homosexual youth,” he would have “received a terrible beating.”
Of the Afghan man’s claim that he felt attracted to his own sex from the age of 12, the official said it was too early for him to know that.
“In an under-sexualized society like Afghanistan, in which there are no public sexual allurements through fashion and advertising, it is not very likely to have been ‘sexualized’ so young.”
His final verdict was that “You are not homosexual and, on your return to Afghanistan, have nothing to fear.”
Austria’s interior ministry said it was unable to comment on specific cases, but the official’s behavior concerning the Afghan man was “not reflective of the [wider] reality.” It said it had decided 120,000 asylum claims in the past two years and was working with the United Nations refugee agency to offer more training on LGBTQ issues to its staff evaluating the asylum process.
Homosexuality is illegal in the highly gender-segregated society of Afghanistan and is often stigmatized like pedophilia and prostitution. After the Taliban took over the country, all same-sex relationships were banned and people who committed adultery or were in a same-sex relationship were executed publicly. Gay men have been beaten, robbed, arrested, raped and even killed in the country.
A handbook for the U.S. marines noted “homosexual behavior is relatively common, but taboo, in rural Afghanistan” because of a lack of normal outlets for sexual needs.
The European courts have deemed homosexuality as a valid reason for seeking asylum if the person is being persecuted in their homeland. However, proving this claim has turned out to be one of the most difficult tasks for Austrian authorities. A gay advocacy group said a report by Austrian migration authority that details the “brutal rejection” of bisexuals, gays and transgenders was itself “so filled with prejudice, stereotype and cliche” that it invalidates itself.
The 18-year-old Afghan man has appealed the decision. But the Austrian official is not giving way saying he cannot be gay.
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