How Gay Is Gay Enough For Asylum?

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

We have another ridiculous case of an asylum seeker not being “gay enough” to immigrate.

According to FreeMovement, an immigration judge in the UK has rejected an asylum seeker because he wasn’t “effeminate” enough. According to Rehana Popal, who’s representing the asylum seeker, the judge wrote the man did not have a gay “demeanour” and did not “look around the room in an effeminate manner.”


Popal then expressed her outrage online.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that an immigration judge has made a ruling based on stereotypes. As Leila Zadeh, the executive director of the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigraiton Group (or UKLGIG) noted:


“There are other determinations that have included comments about how lesbian women have chosen to style their hair and the extent to which gay men are perceived as camp. There are also examples of judges not believing appellants’ sexual orientation because they had not had multiple sexual partners.”

Sadly, it’s true that we’ve seen many similar instances of gay/bi asylum seekers being rejected for not appearing gay enough or despite the serious need for refuge. For instance, a man was rejected from asylum in Austria last August because he didn’t know the meanings of the Pride Flag colors. It was only thanks to the help of advocacy group Queer Base that the man later received support from the government.

Then, a Kenyan-born rugby player who has lived in the UK for years was detained by immigration police after his asylum request was rejected. He was then threatened with a forced return to Kenya. Despite the man’s rugby team voicing their support of him, and Kenya ruling to keep gay sex illegal, the UK Home Office detained the Rugby player for weeks. And because of his pending deportation status, the man couldn’t work and was at risk of being homeless.

Kenneth Macharia / Image via Twitter @bisonsRFC

In response to that early case, the Home Office defended its way of handling asylum seekers.

“The Home Office rejected his asylum application and his appeal because they deem Kenya to be safe for gay people – in spite of the persecution of gay people and 14-year imprisonment for homosexuality. Deporting Ken from the UK will also mean that he is unable to see his mother who lives in Bristol.”

“Ken is deeply concerned about being deported to Kenya, where he would face persecution, and he wishes to stay in the UK to contribute to society. Unfortunately, Ken’s story is yet another example of the Home Office ignoring the risks that LGBT people face in multiple countries around the world.”

But with the latest story added to the mix, can the Home Office and immigration officials continue to say that?

Sources: FreeMovement

Leave a Comment