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Asylum Seekers Film Themselves Having Sex to Prove They’re Gay

Asylum Seekers Film Themselves Having Sex to Prove They’re Gay

How do you prove you’re gay? This is a problem many gay asylum seekers are facing in the UK, experts have warned, with some desperate asylum seekers even resorting to filming themselves having sex with a same-sex partner so as to escape being returned to their home countries where they could be imprisoned or even be put to death.

Reports the Guardian:

In a lecture to be delivered this week at the Law Society, S Chelvan, a barrister who specialises in asylum cases and works with the UK Border Agency (UKBA), will detail the extraordinary methods to which individuals are resorting – including filming themselves having sex – to justify requests for refuge.

[...]

“I know of at least two cases in the last six weeks where I have had asylum seekers filming themselves to demonstrate they are gay. Now it’s all about proving whether you are gay or lesbian.”

A Ugandan woman, who was eventually given temporary leave to remain in the UK but wished to remain anonymous, told the Guardian: “The UKBA officials wanted me to prove that I was lesbian but they wouldn’t tell me how I could.”

The UK, as a result of a 2010 court judgement, recently altered its guidelines on how it assess LGBT asylum claims, switching emphasis so that LGBT applicants were no longer denied on grounds that they could simply be “more discrete” about their identities. However, the new emphasis on proving LGBT identity is evidently causing some problems because what constitutes a genuine claim is rather nebulous.

This also fails in quite a startling way to address the nuance of the asylum problem LGBT applicants face. In the case of the Ugandan woman mentioned above, for instance, it is unlikely the woman has ever been publicly part of any activities that are definable as “gay,” such as Pride parades and the like. It is also highly unlikely that the asylum seeker will have personal belongings that might incriminate them given a climate like Uganda’s would mean that were, for example, pictures of the applicant with a same-sex partner to be found, they would be used to start criminal proceedings.

Therefore relying on this kind of evidence to define the applicant as LGB or T is problematic and has led some asylum groups to question whether the UK’s broad LGBT rights protections and, indeed, its acceptance of LGBTs is being denied asylum seekers in order to keep asylum approvals artificially low.

The issue of asylum seekers not being “gay enough” to sway judges certainly isn’t just a problem unique to the UK, however. The issue of how to differentiate between a genuine asylum claim and one made opportunistically has taxed many a judge across Europe and beyond.

In fact, a Nigerian man applying for asylum in Canada won a review of his denied application last year because it was found that the judge who had originally assessed his claims had relied solely on gay stereotypes in order to assess the man’s application and had, therein, denied it on that basis alone, ignoring vital testimony and recent history that seemed to establish beyond reasonable doubt the man’s links to the LGBT community.

There has in recent weeks, however, been some more positive news on this front. A Guatemalan woman recently became the first openly transgender person to be granted asylum in Denmark after initially being denied the right to stay in the country. The woman, Fernanda Milan, had been an outspoken transgender rights activist and, on appeal, her legal team was able to show a substantial risk to her life should she be returned to her home country.

Needless to say, that an LGBT person’s life must actually be threatened in order for them to have their asylum claim taken seriously is, given the level of persecution that LGBTs still face in many countries, worrying in the extreme.

 

Related Reading:

Norway Refuses Gay Iraqi Asylum

Gay Asylum Claims Still Not Being Handled Correctly in Britain

Nigerian Who Wasn’t Gay Enough for Asylum Wins Review

 

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Image credit: Thinkstock.

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67 comments

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12:17AM PST on Feb 25, 2013

I find it hard to understand anybody saying they were gay solely for the purpose of being granted asylum. Why? Because of the societal backlash in even the most progressive societies.

It is truly sad the lengths that people have to go to prove something so personal. And I am appalled that the UK border services could not tell someone how they could prove their claim to the satisfaction of authorities.

I remember a story about a very successful South American professional golfer. He was approach by a woman who pleaded with him to help her son. Her son was about 8 years old and very sick. He needed surgery that would cost $10,000 but she didn't have the money. She kept pleading with the golfer and he agreed to give her the money. A week later a friend asked if the story of him giving $10,000 to a woman with a sick child was true. Yes it was true he responded. "You've been ripped off by that woman. She has deceived you." The golfer looked at his friend and said "There is no sick child?" "No, there is no sick child." The golfer started to laugh. "Why are you laughing?" The golfer said "I thought there was a sick child, but there is not. That is good news indeed."

6:31PM PST on Feb 24, 2013

That''s horrible! No one should have to go to such extreme lengths to feel safe.

5:59AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Intolerance is the norm in some countries. I would rather err on the side of caution than have someone imprisoned or killed.

5:49AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

Thank. You.

8:11PM PST on Feb 20, 2013

There are even WORSE demeaning ways of "testing if you are gay". Like hooking you up to something like an electronic Lie Detector and SHOWING porn films of Same-sex Sex, to see if you were "aroused" by them. This was used by OTHER countries, tho not by the UK, and led to a great outcry. This would be both more de-humanising, and inaccurate.

Previously, governments treated "asylum for being Gay", lightly, going by the Conservative notion "It's a lifestyle CHOICE". If being Gay is indeed nothing but a "Lifestyle" and a "Choice", then of course it's a poor excuse for Asylum.
Now, at least the UK is starting to take the issue seriously. Hard to think that any large percentage of people, coming from a country where Gays were persecuted, would want to LIE about being Gay - especially on the chance they might be denied asylum and be deported back to their countries with that statement now on their record!

Gay people like refugees generally, don't want to leave their homes, friends and families unless it is absolutely necessary to save their lives... and that is in NO way different from those persecuted for political or religious reasons... Gay people shouldn't have to provide MORE proof than those others, or demeaning "proofs"...

8:45AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Oh dear...

7:53AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

omg how very sad----just goes to show you that stereotypes are just that. I am soory to hear this.

1:53AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Sounds absurd, but then I guess it's supposed to. Just another stumbling block put in the way to deter asylum seekers.

10:47PM PST on Feb 18, 2013

i don't see how being gay has anything to do with having sex.

3:48AM PST on Feb 18, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

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