A refugee from Nicaragua has been denied asylum in Canada because he could not prove he is gay.
The Immigration and Refugee Board said that as Alvaro Antonio Orozco was not sexually active as a teenager, it was impossible to verify his sexuality.
Mr Oroxco’s lawyer accused the IRB of stereotyping gay teenagers as more sexually active than their heterosexual counterparts.
The case has raised questions about how a refugee can “prove” their sexual orientation.
“I think the decision shows a lack of understanding of issues facing queer kids from homophobic cultures and what they have to deal with in terms of gender stereotypes,” El-Farouk Khaki told the Globe and Mail newspaper.
Mr Orozco, now 21, fled Nicaragua when he was 12 years old, hitchhiked to the Mexican/American border, nearly drowned swimming across the Rio Grande, spent a year in a detention centre and took refuge with a Seventh Day Adventist group.
He came to Canada two years ago because he thought the country was more accepting of gay refugees.
His home country of Nicaragua criminalised gay relationships in 1992, and gay people fear for their lives in the violently macho culture.
Mr Orozco told the IRB tribunal that his father had beaten him for being gay from an early age, which prompted him to run away.
But IRB member Deborah Lamont was unconvinced by the Nicaraguan.
“I found the claimant’s many explanations unsatisfactory for why he chose not to pursue same-sex relationships in the U.S. as he alleged it was his intention to do so and he wanted to do so,” she ruled, according to the Globe and Mail.
“He is not a homosexual . . . and fabricated the sexual orientation component to support a non-existent claim for protection in Canada.”
The case highlights the problems that many gay refugees face in proving their sexuality.
Mr Orozco’s lawyer argues that as his client is alone, uneducated and the victim of abuse he should be treated as a vulnerable person.
“We are asking the immigration minister to grant him a stay of removal on humanitarian grounds and allow him to stay,” Mr. Khaki said.