The asylum claim of a man from a country where homosexuality is illegal has been rejected by a UK immigration judge - in part, according to the claimant’s lawyer, because her client didn’t have a gay ‘demeanour’.
The judge refused to accept that the man was homosexual, contrasting his appearance with that of a witness who the judge did accept was gay, and who ‘wore lipstick’, had an ‘effeminate’ manner and was a member of a gay-community organisation.
The Guardian reports that the claimant’s barrister, Rehana Popal, said of the judge: “He has taken a stereotype, used it as a benchmark and compared my client to it. That is totally wrong. You do not need to dress a certain way, carry yourself a certain way or look a certain way to be homosexual. The only thing that makes a person gay is if they are attracted to someone of the same gender.”
Ms Popal described the judge’s comments as being like something “from the 16th century”.
Home Office guidance to asylum caseworkers states that they ‘must not stereotype the behaviour or characteristics of gay or bisexual persons’, and that sexual orientation is about a person’s capacity for “profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction”.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The UK has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution. Each case is considered on its individual merits by experienced caseworkers, with all available evidence carefully and sensitively considered in light of published country information.”
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