A Lebanese man who fled to Australia with a sponsored family visitor visa was denied refugee status as a gay man, due to the fact that he couldn’t present evidence supporting his homosexuality. The man’s claim that he deserved refugee status on the basis of anti-gay persecution was ruled inadequate by the Federal Circuit Court.
The man sought refugee status within a month of arriving in Australia, claiming that he’d been having secret same-sex relationships during his visit down under and was living as a closeted gay man during his life in Lebanon. He said that he was blackmailed in Lebanon after a co-worker had heard him talking in a toilet cubicle to a male friend and that he was fearful of being bullied, harassed, and persecuted by family and society were he to return to his home country.
The court accepted that gays in Lebanon were discriminated against and prosecuted; however, due to the fact that the man hadn’t interacted with any gay-affiliating groups nor engaged in intimate or sexual relationships with other men, the court concluded that the man was not actually a homosexual. According to the Refugee Review Tribunal, the man’s explanations of his same-sex affairs were “vague and lacking in detail in a number of significant respects.”
The man—who cannot be named—did not articulate any emotional aspect of discovering his homosexuality or provide any meaningful insight regarding the impact on his life, according to court findings. The tribunal found the man’s claim that his family in Lebanon was ignorant about his sexuality until recently was “surprising and somewhat convenient.”
“It seems illogical that he has not made any connections or lived openly as a gay man in the 21 months since he arrived in Australia,” the tribunal said.
Perhaps in the future, the man may be able to properly prove his sexual orientation in a way that the tribunal will find succinct and satisfactory. Until then, he will be asked to leave Australia and return to his home country of Lebanon.