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February 08, 2007

Comments

The Immigration & Refugee Board (IRB) member responsible for this abysmal decision obviously has so little understanding of gay teens and seems to fall back on this dated equation of gay men as hypersexual and promiscuous. The IRB member concludes that Mr. Orozco could not be gay "because he wasn't sexually active during his teen years". It seems some bureacrat from Northern Ontario knows the minds of gay men, and is confident that gay teens are by definition sleeping their way across town (or in this case the continent).

As for the word "queer": I happen to know the Mr. Khaki and his LGBT creds are impeccable. "Queer" is a broader term than "gay" and encompasses gay, lesbian, bi and transgendered. Admittedly the term was originally derogatory (and still can be depending on context), but it is a case of the language being reclaimed for sociopolitical purposes. Often it is used as a political term both because it is more inclusive and because it is used in defiance to the original meaning.

As for the last two sentences in your otherwise welcome posting, why is this caveat always present whenever straight bloggers write something about gay issues? It's predictable

Mark, fair point about the last couple of lines. In my defence it was as much a tribute to a much loved Seinfeld episode as to anything else.

But, I admit, there was a small part of me that didn't want anyone jumping to conclusion in a very religious country where I have a job to do and new colleagues to work with.

That said, I'd stand shoulder to shoulder with any gay colleague and back them and their rights.

Thanks for clearing up the queer thing. I'm not sure what I make of the use of the word but then again it's not for me to have an opinion.

I agree about the outdated equation of gay men. It's certainly a strange ruling. The concept of claiming asylum because of your sexuality is a new one on me but thinking about it for a second it must be a comparatively regular occurrence.

It's also a topic that I can imagine the right wing media get very steamed up about. The demonising of asylum seekers in the British press is something I am very ashamed about in my county. Newspapers like The Sun and the Daily Mail are quite openly racist in their coverage.

These papers are also extremely homophobic - I can imagine them foaming at the mouth over the issue of gay asylum seekers.

For an update on this story see: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070210.STAY10/TPStory/?query=gay+nicaraguan
The claimant has now been given a reprieve. I'm sure the press this story got had something to do with it. Also this update has more information about the situation of gay men in Nicaragua - not a pretty picture and apparently getting worse!

I'm not sure I understand your worry about people actually judging a country for human rights infringements. God forbid. Yeah I guess you don't want people dismissing an entire country and its culture, but is that really a likely outcome here? That makes it sound like state sanctioned homophobia is somehow an integral part of the culture and its religious institutions, and criticism of this is criticism of core Nicaraguan values. This may not be what you are saying, but I think we have to be able to disconnect human rights issues from the issue of appreciating a culture. And after all I've seen even the most conservative societies learn to change (small accommodations I saw in Vietnamese society for instance).

As for refugee claims based on persecution of sexual orientation - this is very common in Canada and there are thousands of them. I have no idea about Britain. I doubt the US does this sort of thing. The lawyer, Mr. Khaki, mentioned in this story primarily handles these kinds of claims. It's not enough to claim it would be better to live as a gay or lesbian in Canada. Claimants have to show that there is a well-grounded fear of persecution and that the government in the home country cannot or will not provide protection, and that there are no internal flight options (eg. moving to a relatively accepting urban community in the home country).

The reason the IRB member rejected the claim initially is because she didn't believe he was gay. Unfortunately there have been some cases in which people have made false refugee claims by fabricating sexual orientation and a history of persecution. I have no idea though how often that has really occurred. In this case, it seems to me that the member used specious reasoning to doubt the claimant's story.

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