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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Australian court tells asylum seeking Lebanese 'you can't be gay as you didn't apply quick enough'

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Source: Sydney Morning Herald

By Bellinda Kontominas

A Lebanese man who says he is gay and became engaged to an Australian woman to please his abusive father has been denied a protection visa because he was not believed to be homosexual.

The 25-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sought the visa in April last year, saying he suffered persecution in Lebanon for being gay and experienced constant pressure from his father to marry because he was not ''acting like a man''.

The man purported to have had two secret homosexual relationships before coming to Australia for the first time in 2007.

One night when he had returned home late with a friend, his father tied him up, hit him and burnt him with a cigarette, the man claimed.

But during his first visit to Australia, the man became engaged to a woman after they were introduced by one of his uncles.

He applied for a prospective spouse visa, providing the Department of Immigration with photographs of an engagement party and saying he planned to marry and have children.

Eight days later, the man told the department he had broken off the engagement.

In evidence before the Refugee Review Tribunal, he said he had been ''desperate'' to escape pressure from his father, who had tried to convince him he would eventually fall in love with his fiancee.

The only reason he said he loved the woman was to get a visa, he told the tribunal. But when his boyfriend in Lebanon became upset at what he had done, he withdrew the application.

The man told the tribunal his actions showed ''the struggles which a homosexual Muslim man faced when reaching marital age and in trying to avoid the stigma associated with being gay''.

But the tribunal did not believe he was homosexual or that he had been persecuted, finding his purported levels of fear would have resulted in a more prompt application for protection. Its decision has been upheld by the federal Magistrates Court in Sydney.
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