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UK judge rejects LGBTQ asylum seeker for not having gay ‘demeanour’

The immigration judge said he did not accept the man was gay because we wasn't "effeminate".

By Will Stroude

A UK judge rejected the claim of an LGBTQ asylum seeker from a country where homosexuality is illegal because he did not have a gay “demeanour”, it has been revealed.

The judge at the London immigration tribunal reportedly said he did not accept the asylum seeker was gay before contrasting his appearance with an “effeminate” witness who “wore lipstick”.

The claimant’s barrister, Rehana Popal, revealed the details of the judge’s written determination to The Guardian after an appeal court decided last week that the judge was wrong and the case must be started from scratch.

Popal blasted the judge for making his decision based on “a stereotype embedded in prejudice”, describing them as like “from the 16th century”.

“He has taken a stereotype, used it as a benchmark and compared my client to it,” she said. “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.”

According to The Independent, data published last November showed that 78 per cent of asylum claims referring to sexual orientation were refused by the Home Office in 2017-18.

That figure was a 52 per cent increase on 2015, when 61 per cent of sexual oritentation claims were rejected.

The judge’s original decision was defended by the Home Office on appeal before being overturned. 

Asked to comment on the case, the Home Office deflected, insisting the the appeals process was independent from the government.

A spokesperson 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.”

The news comes after the Home Office faced renewed criticism over its policy of deporting LGBTQ asylum seekrs to countries where homosexuality is illegal after sporting rainbow logos over its social media channels during Pride month.

The department was also banned from participating in UK Black Pride last month over its deportation policy.

Meanwhile, we recently highlighted the story of Attitude Pride Award winner Kenneth Macharia, who is fighting deportation to Kenya – where judges recently rule to uphol laws banning homosexuality – with help from his gay rugby teammates.

You can read more about his story here.