Persecuted Gay Men and Women May Claim Asylum in Australia



Two gay Bangladeshi men came to Australia in 1999, claiming asylum on the basis that they would be killed or harmed if they were returned home. With the support of Amnesty International, the men tendered evidence that they would face persecution and violence if forced to return home to Bangladesh, where homosexuality is a crime.

At first instance, Australia’s Refugee Review Tribunal refused the claim, doubting some of the evidence tendered by the applicants and adding that the men would not face harm “if they lived discretely.” Refugee status was in part refused on the grounds that gay men and women who were forced to “live discretely” to avoid persecution did NOT possess a legitimate claim for asylum in Australia.

On appeal

A narrow majority of the High Court of Australia (think US Supreme Court–the HCA is the ultimate judicial body in this country) has rejected the findings of the Tribunal. The Court has found that persecuted gay men and women may be considered to be members of an oppressed “particular social group” that is eligible for protection under the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention (to which Australia is a signatory).

On the subject of living “discretely”:

**The High Court has not reversed the Tribunal’s decision, rather it has been sent back down to be reconsidered. It may be expected that the Tribunal will now allow the two Bangladeshi men refugee status in Australia, since it is bound by the High Court’s finding that homosexual people are a “social group” for purposes of the 1951 Convention, and that it is incorrect to conclude that the potential to “live discretely” to avoid persecution precludes a claim for refugee status.

The effects of the decision

Internationally, this is thought to be the first time that a court of final appeal has considered a claim for refugee status founded on persecution due to sexuality. This is big news.

Two flow-on effects can be expected:

(1) Future claims for asylum on the basis of persecution due to sexuality.

**(2) The predictable outcry of the far Christian Right and anti-gay groups. Such bozos have already piped up with claims that homosexuality is a “choice” and that accordingly refugee status should not be awarded to the men for “choices” they could otherwise refuse.


Tied to this criticism is the juicy fact that one of the judges on the High Court Majority – the estimable Justice Michael Kirby – is living in the committed gay relationship. The outraged cries that Kirby J is biased and should have been precluded himself from sitting on the case have already risen, along with the predictable criticisms of “judicial activism”.

The Commonwealth Government is yet to comment on the decision, but the new leader of the Federal Opposition has already spoken up in support. Prime Minister Howard is notably conservative on the issue of gay rights – he has spoken in the past of his opposition to gay marriage – so I don’t expect him to break out in a rash of support and compassion any time soon.

Your thoughts?

Personally, I’m thrilled to bits. First, the decision appears correct at law. Second, I’m glad that men and women who face certain persecution and violence at home on account of their sexuality may claim asylum in Australia–it embiggens this nation’s heart (to use a cromulent word).

Third, the gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair of anti-gay groups fills me with delight.

Fourth, I can’t wait for the publicity that will follow when a gay man from a Western nation claims asylum in Australia on account of the fact that he faces persecution and oppression at home. :wink:


Australia’s got politics? Well, I’ll be dipped.

It’s a wise and crumulent decision, and I applaud it. Or, to use youse vernacular, good at you, mutt!

You’re repeating yourself, 'lucy.

Surprise me once, shame on you; surprise me twice… :wink:

He’s old. Cut him some slack.

I applaud the decision 100 per cent but I don’t envy the authorities their future task of separating the fraudulent from the genuine.

I don’t suppose we can borrow your government when you’re done with it?

posted by robertliguori

A court decision should not be confused with a government.

proud of my country for the first time in weeks

What Gmork said. It does not make up for other debacles but this is finally good news

The more I hear about Australia, the more I like it . . .

[Eve ponders airfares and wonders what to pack]

I’ve been reading about this case over the past few months since it came to my attention and I must say this is a just decision. It may not be easy, but it is just. These two were under fatwahs, judgements of death, from their home town and faced almost-certain execution of one form or another if they returned to Bangladesh. This was serious business, not just a lark for the couple, and I’m glad the High Court saw this.

Oh you mean like religion, yes? We don’t let people claim asylum based on religious persecution, do we? Oh wait…

P.S: The you referred to is not the OP. Please don’t be offended.

A word of caution, Eve.

I’m speaking as an American who is much better informed as regards Australia than the average American, that is, vast ignorance dotted with little nuggets of misinformation.

Australian animals come in three varieties: insufferably cute animals, animals that will kill you, and animals that will kill you and eat you. It is the only known civilization ever to be threatened with extinction by rabbits. That’s right. Rabbits.

It is the only land mass in the world where marijuana will not grow. Some say its the climate, others the soil. I think its despair.

They have one natural formation, Ayer’s Rock, of which they are inordinately proud. Its a really big rock in the middle of nowhere. And that’s it. If you visit, you are advised to make admiring remarks. “Sure, I’ve seen the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls…but this! This is a rock in the middle of nowhere! A really big one, too! Boyhowdy, that’s some rock…”

They drink. Lord, how they drink! Alcoholics Anonymous sent a missionary team some years back. They were never heard from again.

Sure, some really good looking people are from Australia. Operative word is “from”, as in “fled at earliest opportunity”.

Australia’s white population is descended from riff-raff, whores, cutpurses, highwaymen and montebanks forcibly deported from England. They had the option of hanging them but chose the more cruel alternative of “transportation” to Australia. This is a source of great pride to Aussies. Go figure.

They are very touchy about all this. Last time I ragged on Australia like this, Demostylus didn’t talk to me for weeks.

All kidding aside, this is an extraordinarily humane and intelligent decision. I congratulate Prime Minister Dundee.

Well, that’s just about as accurate as Blair’s WMD dossier… (not that I’d know anything about these things of course)

Be careful. The first group, the insufferably cute animals, is simply a subset of the animals that will kill you. Seriously, has anyone ever tried to pick up a koala?

Also, I agree with what Gmork and UnwrittenNocturne said, as well as marky33.

robertliguori: I don’t know if “The 'Burg” is slang for some place, so I don’t know where you are, but your government would have to be in a pretty sorry state of affairs for you to want to borrow ours.

~ Isaac

Can we emphasise that this is a court decision. Our government does not deserve the praise being handed to it in this thread. I expect them to denounce this decision; as the OP noted, our conservative Prime Minister is not synpathetic to gay unions. This has come in spite of our current government, not because of it.

But like gmork, I feel that it’s nice to be able to say “go us!” for once.

Dinaroozie: I alternate between Williamsburg, VA and Blacksburg, VA. Rather than update it every time college lets out or resumes, I generalized. I’m in the U.S.

And until your government makes an ass of itself over this, it’s all good.

Hell **elucidator **, you were going so well … why the recant?

Hmm, crumulent, woolly checks in his Macca Book of Woids … nothing … decides on discretion. :slight_smile:

Eve if you are coming to our fair shores, to minimise immigration issues make sure you are as far toward the front of the plane as you can afford and at absolute worst avoid low budget maritime migration at all costs.