Teenager fearing persecution has claim rejected as official did not believe he was gay
An Afghan teenager who said he feared being persecuted in his home country for being gay has had his asylum application rejected by Austria after an official said he did not “walk, act or dress” like a gay man, according to reports.
An official in Lower Austria found no grounds for fear of persecution based on the sexual orientation of the 18-year-old, the Falter newspaper reported.
“The way you walk, act or dress does not show even in the slightest that you could be homosexual,” the official reportedly wrote in his assessment rejecting the claim.
The official also found “potential for aggression”, which “wouldn’t be expected from a homosexual”, because the man fought with others in the accommodation where he was being housed.
He reportedly had few friends and liked spending time alone or in small groups, leading the official to question in his report: “Aren’t homosexuals rather social?”
The official rejected the statement that the Afghan teenager had kissed straight men, saying he would have been beaten if he had done so, the Falter reported.
He had said he became aware of his sexuality when he was 12 years old, but the official found that was “rather early” and so not likely, particularly in a society such as Afghanistan “where there is no public sexual stimulation through fashion and advertisement”.
The Afghan, who came to Austria alone as a minor, was appealing against the decision, the Falter said.
Austria’s interior ministry said on Wednesday it could not comment on the specific case, but it was “not reflective of the [wider] reality”. About 120,000 asylum claims had been decided on over the past two years, it said.
“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 in a statement, adding that “individual impressions” were significant in the interview process.
It said it was working with the UN refugee agency to offer further training on LGBT issues to “ensure quality” in the asylum evaluation process.
Homosexuality is illegal in Afghanistan’s conservative, highly gender-segregated society.
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