An immigration official in Austria rejected the asylum bid of an Afghan teenager because he did not exhibit stereotypical gay behavior, a report that has been brought to light by TIME said.
According to an official, the teenager had no fear of facing homophobia and therefore did not need to seek asylum in Austria. His depiction of gay behavior seems entrenched in stereotypes, making the claims that the youth did not have to fear persecution in his home country dubious at best.
“The way you walk, act or dress does not show even in the slightest that you could be homosexual,” the official wrote when he rejected the claim.
Along with the obvious issue of relying on stereotypes to ascertain if someone is homosexual or not, as the office did according to a report by Agence France-Press via The Guardian, it can have serious consequences for the 18-year-old Afghan youth. In Afghanistan, homosexuality is illegal.
The report continues to rely on misunderstandings and stereotypes. The teenager said that he first realized he was gay when he was 12-years-old. The official counters with saying that it’s unlikely to happen in a place like Afghanistan, where the public is isolated from sexual stimulation in fashion or advertisement. He also was skeptical when he found out the young man likes to spend time alone or in small groups.
“Aren’t homosexuals rather social?” he asked.
The official apparently believes that homosexuals are not aggressive, citing the teen’s fight at the place he was being housed as further proof that the Afghani is not truly gay. Even when the youth said that he kissed straight men, the claim was rejected because he wasn’t beaten to death, which the official feels would certainly have happened.
Der Falter reports that the teenager is appealing the decision. Austria’s interior ministry will not comment on the case itself but does point out that it is not reflective of the wider reality.
“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 said, adding that individual impressions are also important for making the decision to grant asylum.
The Austrian ministry did say it was working with the UN refugee agency to help improve ensure quality in the process of evaluating asylum applications from people who are part of the LGBTQ community.