Austria Reportedly Rejects Afghan Asylum Seeker Because He Did Not "Act" Gay

Alexander J. Segal's picture

On August 18, 2018, Agence France-Presse (AFP) published a troubling report about an Austrian asylum case where an Afghan asylum applicant's application was rejected because the adjudicating officer did not believe that he acted gay [link].1

The report concerns an 18-year old man from Afghanistan who sought asylum in Austria, stating that he feared persecution back home due to his sexual orientation. The story states that the Austrian official who considered his application denied it on the basis that the applicant did not appear to the official to be gay. The report lists several factors that the official listed to support his conclusion that the Afghan asylum applicant did not appear to be gay:

The applicant did not “walk, act[,] or dress” like a homosexual;
The applicant had a “potential for aggression”;
The applicant preferred spending time alone to spending time in large groups;
The applicant's statement that he had kissed straight men must be false because he would have been beaten had he done so; and
The applicant stated that he became aware of his sexuality when he was 12, but that was too early, particularly in Afghanistan “where there is no public sexual stimulation through fashion and advertisement.”

We cannot speak to the intricacies of Austrian asylum laws or the actual merits of the applicant's case for asylum, but we can say that the purported reasons for denial in this case are patently absurd. It should go without saying that not every gay person presents him or herself the same way, and this should be especially obvious in the case of a young man from a non-western society where even being perceived as being gay can put one in mortal danger. None of the reasons provided by the Austrian official in any way reflect negatively on the merits of the young man's asylum application, and we certainly hope that his appeal of the decision is successful in order that he can have his application considered by an official who is interested in adjudicating the specific facts of the case instead of looking at them through the prism of his or her own view of how a homosexual individual should behave and present him or herself.


  1. AFP. “Austria rejects Afghan asylum seeker because he didn't 'act' gay — report.” The Times of Israel. Aug. 18, 2018.
Austria Reportedly Rejects Afghan Asylum Seeker Because He Did Not "Act" Gay