Nigerian Who Wasn’t Gay Enough for Asylum Wins Review


A federal judge in Toronto has ordered the rehearing of a Nigerian man‘s asylum case after it was rejected by an immigration judge because she felt the man was not “credible” and, in her opinion, had failed to prove he was gay.

Reports the National Post:

But in a decision last month, federal Judge James Russell set aside the officer’s decision, saying that the officer seemed to have been guided by stereotypical beliefs about how a gay person should behave.

“It is inappropriate for officers to rely on stereotypes when evaluating whether or not a person has established any ground of risk, including sexual orientation,” Russell wrote.

The judge said he was mindful of the difficulties immigration officers face when assessing these types of cases.

“At the same time, the acts and behaviours which establish a claimant’s homosexuality are inherently private,” Russell wrote. “When evaluating claims based on sexual orientation, officers must be mindful of the inherent difficulties in proving that a claimant has engaged in any particular sexual activities.”

The case centers on Francis Ojo Ogunrinde, now 40, who in 2007 came to Canada as a refugee. However, in 2010 the Immigration and Refugee Board rejected his claim for refugee status, saying that he had failed to provide adequate proof that he is gay and therefore would face persecution if sent back to his home country.

However, it seems Ogunrinde had provided quite a bit of material evidence to support his assertions.

Ogunrinde reportedly provided letters attesting to his sexuality from several people, and also a letter from a man with whom he had been in a relationship with since 2010. Within that submission there were also pictures of the couple.

Moreover, Ogunrinde is said to have provided a letter from a friend still living in Nigeria that said Ogunrinde was wanted by police with regards to so-called “homosexual activities.”

The submission also provided a letter from a local community center near where Ogunrinde currently resides. The letter confirmed he had a longstanding membership with a gay community group and that he was an active member.

However, this apparently was not enough for the senior immigration judge.

She said that the letters and pictures had not adequately proved that he was gay, noting that the letter from Ogunrinde’s alleged boyfriend failed to explain how they’d met or expound on any romantic aspects of their relationship.

Human rights groups have continually pointed out in cases like this that overt details of an asylum seeker’s sexual orientation would be hard to pin down precisely because they must hide their sexuality in their home country, and therefore pictures of the applicant and their romantic partner were unlikely to make the relationship obvious.

This case also speaks to the wider problem faced by immigration officials who must consider what constitutes a genuine asylum claim with reference to sexuality and an opportunistic claim.

What is interesting in this particular case however is the sheer breadth of evidence the applicant had sort to have considered and how this evidence was summarily–and according to the federal court, improperly–dismissed by immigration officials.


Related Reading:

Lesbian Asylum Seeker Told to Hide Identity by German Court

Gay Iraqi’s Story of Death Threats and Attempted Rape (VIDEO)

Ugandan LGBT Rights Campaigner Denied UK Entry

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Joe Gratz.


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

One last thing, Michele H.: You're kinda old, ain't ya?

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

One last time (Atleast I'll try) I'll address Michele H. I've checked your page. You have a picture that I find invasive. It shows heterosexual sex. All according to your own definitions of gay sex. It also shows you have no friends. Wonder why? And it says you care for animals. So why don't you keep your comments exclusively on stories that cover those issues? You can't win on stories like these. There are way too many liberals that support marriage equality, equal rights for LGBT, and other issues involving LGBT, for you to win any discussion or gain any friends here on Care2. Stick to defending animals. They need support. And let the rest of us, with various interests, comment on those issues that we feel are important to us!

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

timothy m. : Are you another addition to the Care2 trolls? Just wonder .because you actually believes someone would voluntarily confess to be gay just to stay in the country, or to get someone a longer prison sentence or get out of military service or after being evicted. Yes., since it's so easy to be gay, that must lead to enormous amounts of people claiming to be gay just to gain some benefits. Right. Sure. Ever heard of persecutions? Getting fired? Physically attacked? Raped? Next time you feel like you need to get some extra attention, state you're gay and see what happens!

Pamela B.
Pamela B.5 years ago

Maybe if he had engaged in gay sex before the woman jude who said he didn't provide enough evidence to prove he was gay, she might OK his status. But then again, knowing how so many judges are against gay rights anyway, she still may have rejected his claim. And for Michele H. there are many reasons that one would seek refuge in any country, including being a woman like YOU who happened to be from middle Eastern countries who would be killed because some guy raped her. Would you tell those women to keep their butts in their own country? You probably would. And you are so behind the science that proves that being gay is not a choice, it's a genetic occurrence.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

The mind boggles.

timothy m.
timothy m5 years ago

It's certainly wrong to create a stereotypical gay profile. There is great diversity within the gay community.

This case, though, raises an interesting issue. If homosexuality is officially enshrined as a protected status like race and sex, there has to be some sort of parameters to define who is and isn't gay. Thinking about the old-time attempt to identify oneself as gay to get out of military service, it only stands to reason that if gays are privileges with quotas and set-asides, heterosexuals might falsely claim to be gay in order to cash in. Or someone who's been assaulted could claim to be gay in order to have the perpetrator's sentence lengthened for having committed a 'hate' crime. Or someone who gets evicted from a residence could falsely claim to have been evicted for being gay. There certainly is potential for abuse, which needs to be addressed, but won't be since it's politically incorrect to do so.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Which only goes to prove that some people have a brain the size of a small nut and it is cracked. I guess he should have worn a purse that matched his pumps. Some of these people in power make the really stupid look SMART.

BMutiny TCorporationsAreE

Kamryn, they do in fact have a "gay scale". Isn't that an awful thought?
In some countries, I don't know if it was used in this case, they HAVE A REAL SCALE that measures A MAN'S RESPONSE TO PICTURES OF ANOTHER MAN.
I guess if the guy literally "rings bells" with him, that PROVES the subject is really gay!
They actually do MEASURE the response to pictures of a naked or "sexy" man, compared with pictures of a naked or "sexy" woman.......
These were used at one time in some Eastern European countries, I've heard......
I don't know if they are still being used anywhere!
But thanks for your question! You didn't know it was a good one!

Jen Matheson
Past Member 5 years ago

This Canada! Since whwn do we deport people because they don't fit into some eidiculously exagerated sterotype! Good Grief~

Duane B.
.5 years ago

I'm certain the immigration judge has a difficult job, and there probably are people that lie to obtain asylum in new countries. However, it would seem pretty difficult for someone to "prove" that he/she is either gay or straight. At some point, you're going to have to look at the evidence and the witnesses and make a decision.