Austria rejected the asylum application of an 18-year-old Afghan gay man as authorities believe he did not “act” or “dress” like a homosexual, the Falter weekly newspaper reports.
Homosexuality is illegal in Afghanistan and is punishable by death. At the very least, homosexuals face social exclusion.
The weekly cites a long list of criteria used by an Austrian immigration official to determine how gay is the asylum applicant.
The Austrian official links homosexuality to the presumed docility. The official claims that since the man quarrelled with the charity hosting him in Vienna, he indicated a type of aggression that is not consistent with the image of a homosexual.
Moreover, according to the Austrian official, homosexuals are overtly social. The man was not “social” – i.e. spending too much time in isolation – which is not in tune with he expected.
“The way you walk, act and dress do not show even in the slightest that you could be homosexual,” the Austrian official told the Afghan applicant, concluding that it would be safe for him to return home.
Finally, the Afghan man stated he has known he is gay since the age of 12; the official questioned this assertion, as Afghanistan does not have the fashion and public debate on homosexuality that would have allowed him to realise his identity.
The man is appealing the decision. He arrived in Austria at the age of 16, when he was still a minor. Initially, he falsely claimed he was a member of the prosecuted Hazara community; his advocates claim that this is because he feared coming out.
The Austrian minister of interior refused to comment on the case on Wednesday. However, the Austrian government is said to be working with UNHCR to offer training on LGBT issues. The ministry admits that individual impressions play a major role in assessing asylum applications
In January 2018 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled against Hungary’s rejection of an asylum application by a Nigerian man who claimed to be gay. Authorities wanted to subject the man to a “psychological test” but, according to the ECJ ruling, a test amounted to “disproportionate interference in the private life of the asylum-seeker.”