27-year-old refugee from Iraq „too gay“ to get asylum in Austria

The Office for Asylum wanted statements from men who have slept with Firas to prove that he is gay

Kurt Hohensinner, Firas. Joe Niedermayer
Rosalila PantherInnen

Another questionable decision from the Federal Office for Aliens and Asylum (BFA) raises attention in Austria: The asylum application of Firas, a 27-year-old refugee from Iraq, was rejected because he acted “too gay” in his interview. Weeks ago, the same office denied asylum to an 18-year-old Afghan boy because he did not act gay enough.

Too girlish to be gay, the Federal Office for Aliens and Asylum said

Firas had fled from Iraq to Austria because of his homosexuality in 2015: In his interview before the BFA in Graz on May 8, 2018, the young man had shown „a stereotypical, at least exaggerated ‚girlish‘ (Gestures and facial expressions) behaviour of a ’sexually differently oriented‘ person.” It is „not believable that you are sexually different (gay) oriented,“ the decision says.

And that’s not all: „We had to present statements from men who have slept with Firas to prove that he is gay,“ Joe Niedermayer, chairman of local LGBT organisation “Rosalila PantherInnen” (RLP) is stunned.

The BFA even neglected the fact, that Firas has translated a folder about coming out as LGBT to Arabic, which was presented under attendance of local politicians who now refuse to comment the case.

Asylum was also rejected because he was too afraid to tell his father he was gay

Another reason for reject asylum was, that Firas’ father knew nothing of the homosexuality of his son. In this case, BFA neglected the fact that Firas himself stated in his interrogation that he kept his homosexuality in Iraq top secret and did not dare to reveal it to anybody.

The Iraqi had been aware he was gay since the age of 16. But he had first same-sex contacts only after his escape in Austria. Previously, the fear of death had been too big. In Iraq,  gay men have to fear for their lives: Often, men with fake profiles log on to dating sites, arrange meetings and then lurk there to kill gay men.

Firas has filed an appeal against the negative decision. The Ministry of the Interior rejects the criticism: „We can’t pursue every formulation.“ Even if a wording should be dubious, this does not change the validity of the decision, the ministry points out.