An Austrian immigration official has rejected a gay Afghan teenager’s application for asylum on the grounds that the teen didn’t appear stereotypically gay.
“The way you walk, act or dress does not show even in the slightest that you could be homosexual,” an official in the state of Lower Austria wrote in rejecting the 18-year-old’s asylum claim, reports Agence France-Presse, citing Austria’s Falter newspaper.
The young man, who said he feared persecution for being gay if he returned to Afghanistan, is appealing the decision. He came to Austria as a minor.
The immigration official invoked a variety of stereotypical assumptions about gay people in rejecting the teen’s claim. The official said he saw “potential for aggression” in the youth because he had fought with his housemates, and contended this “wouldn’t be expected from a homosexual.”
The young man’s penchant for solitude also made his homosexuality suspect, according to the immigration worker, who wrote, “Aren’t homosexuals rather social?” He further questioned the youth’s claim of knowing he was gay at age 12. That is “rather early,” the official said, and unlikely in a conservative country like Afghanistan, “where there is no public sexual stimulation through fashion and advertisement.” Additionally, the worker did not believe the Afghan man’s tales of kissing straight men, asserting that behavior would have resulted in physical violence.
Austria’s interior ministry declined comment on the specific case, but told AFP it was “not reflective of the [wider] reality.” The ministry issued a statement saying, “Asylum seekers must substantiate their reasons for fleeing. There are no concrete rules of proof, but the authorities must show if and why a claim was found to have been substantiated.” The ministry did note that “individual impressions” play a major role in the consideration of asylum claims.
The statement added that the ministry is seeking guidance from the United Nations refugee agency on how to better evaluate LGBTQ asylum applications.