Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Gay Egyptian a refugee: tribunal

The Refugee Review Tribunal has ruled in another case that a gay Egyptian is a refugee. This comes just after the tribunal recently decided that a gay Egyptian was a refugee.

In the most recent decision, called 0908933:

The applicant realised he was gay when he was 14 or 15 years old. He was sitting with a friend in class, studying human reproductive organs and this led to a sexual relationship between them. On one occasion he was engaged in sexual activity in the school toilets when a teacher caught them. They were beaten by the teacher on the principal’s orders and they were eventually separated. At that time he was very young and could not exercise mature judgement.


About a week later, he accompanied his friend to a park where they were fooling around. They were seen hugging each other by undercover police. The police approached them and slapped the applicant on the face. After they were beaten, the police let them go.

The applicant handed the [official from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship]  photographs of him and Person A, in the company of other men, at various clubs in Australia. He stated that Person A had purchased the camera a few days before the interview. The applicant had difficulty remembering the names of those in the photographs and stated that he forgets names quickly and some people do not like to disclose their name.

He met his second sexual partner, Person B, at college. On one occasion he decided to visit his friend at home. Person B’s sister attended the same college. She knew the applicant and she had a crush on him without his knowledge. When he arrived at Person B’s house, no one was home except Person B’s sister. She told him that she loved him and that she wanted to have sex with him. He tried to explain to her that he did not like her. She cried upon hearing this, but at the end he just left his friend’s house. A day or two later when he returned to the college, he saw her standing with his friends. They were all looking at him and laughing and he felt that something was different.

He had no other relationships and had never frequented any gay venues in Egypt. The delegate put to him that there are a number of gay venues in Egypt. He said these places were far away from where he lived and were frequented by tourists which meant that they were very expensive. He conducted his relationships privately and did not go to any clubs or cruising spots. He was asked if he was involved with anyone other than Person A. He said no.

He met Person A while they were both working as labourers. They did not speak to each other straight away, but on Saturday they went out to a gay pub and danced together. He goes to a specific area every weekend, but only goes to three clubs, mostly the Colombian. The applicant was unaware of the Sleaze Ball and did not know that a big party had followed the Mardi Gras. He said he has never had a profile on a gay social networking site, but he would like to. He was asked if he had heard of any gay websites, such as Gaydar or Manjam. He said no.

He stated he shared a “double bed” with Person A and slept on the right side of the bed. He did most of the cooking and they helped each other in carrying out the house work.

The tribunal found that the applicant would be persecuted if he were to return to Egypt, including a risk of torture. It cited an article from Gulf News which stated that two Egyptian journalists were jailed  and a thrid heavily fined for suggesting that three celebrities had engaged in gay sex:

"Homosexuality is punishable under Egyptian law and sternly frowned upon in Sharia....Most public figures in Egypt want to avoid being connected to homosexuality, which could damage their popularity among Muslim fans. [One of the actors that the story was written about, Nour] Al Sharif did not seem bothered by the accusations of belonging to a prostitution network, but was frustrated at being described as a homosexual.
"Naming me among homosexuals defamed me and all Egyptian artists. The Journalists Syndicate has to be firm with anyone trying to insult the dignity of Egyptian artists," he said.

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