Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Proving gayness

Astounding story in the Globe today. A gay refugee claimant from Nicaragua (where same-sex relationships are criminalized) seeking asylum in Canada had his claim denied because the Immigration and Review Board member that heard his case, Deborah Lamont, didn't believe he was really gay.

It seems she thinks he's faking it so he could stay in Canada, and feels that in presenting his case he didn't prove he was really gay, because he didn't have same-sex relations as a teenager:

...didn't believe Mr. Orozco was gay because he wasn't sexually active during his teen years, and wasn't clear about his sexual orientation when he fled Nicaragua at the age of 12 ...

I'm not unsympathetic to the argument that some people might lie to cheat the system, but I have to wonder, just what would constitute “proof of gayness” to the satisfaction of Ms. Lamont and the IRB members? Should he make out with a guy during the hearing or something?

I could go on with the ridiculousness of some of her comments in this story, but I'll leave it to you to read. I did though want to highlight this graph from the story:

Soft-spoken with delicate features, wearing a pink-checked shirt, Mr. Orozco certainly looks the part, and says that from a young age he felt and behaved differently. He was drawn to artistic pursuits and often played indoors as a child, and today aspires to be a nurse.

That's not a quote or a paraphrase, that's the reporter's observations. So, according to the Globe and Mail, men that wear pink checkered shirts are gay, or at least “look the part.” Or maybe it's being soft spoken, with “delicate features” that give away gayness. And of course he wants to be a nurse, so he must be gay, right Globe?

Is my lefty outrage sense malfunctioning here, or is that just a ridiculous graph that perpetuates ignorant stereotypes?

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Anonymous said...

THis is unfortunate, but actually is based on actual past incidences. My wifes mother was an immigration officer and she did have a client who claimed refugee status from Cuba because he was gay. His temporary status was granted and upon a visit from my mother in law, she found he was living with a girlfriend, not only had he been living with her all along, he actually severely beat her and put her in the hospital. Shortly after, he was deported - not because he was gay, or even "bi", but because he was an abusive asshole... however, his 'gayness' I would call into question as well so they have to be skeptical even if it may be considered offensive.

The bottom line is, though there are legitimate claimants on this issue, the government always has to remain vigilant on this... so yeah on the one hand it seems a bit bigoted but on the other they have to watch out for guys like the one i have just described.

Jeff said...

I don't deny that people do abuse the system, and that the government does need to be vigilant. Clearly, in the case you describe it was a phony claim. But there needs to be some kind of system, guidelines, for making a determination..not sure what that'd be, but there needs to be something other than a gut feeling.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! This reminds me o' back in teh 60's when the Merkans had the draft an' 18 year old Merkan boys hadta go inta the army an' fight Mr. Charlie's War in Vietnam. Sum Merkan boys'd claim they was queers so's they could get outta killin' or bein' killed. Anuther way o' gettin' outta the Merkan army was t' carry 'round a Communist Party membership card.

I hear-tell the smartypants scientists is close by t' singlin' out the 'gay gene'. Mebbe that'll cut the red tape.


Anonymous said...

In Montreal last year it was reported that Mexicans were claiming refugee status as gay.
Some were showing up dressed in drag to "convince" the immigration officials that they were gay.

Jay said...

Thats very sad.

People do not identify me as gay male when they meet me. I have no feminine features, my voice is quite deep and not lispy. Yet I am married to another guy. These people are using sterotypes to gauge whether someone is gay or not.

Regardless if the system is sometimes abused it doesn't justify treating people in this manner.

McLea said...

Or maybe it's being soft spoken, with “delicate features” that give away gayness.

No, no, no. It was the fact that he "often played indoors as a child" that gave away his gayness. Everyone knows that homosexuals are allergic to the sun.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I work at his lawyer's office. The point here is not what qualifies someone as "gay," but why he wasn't given the procedural accommodations granted to claimants designated as vulnerable so he wouldn't have been ripped to shredds at his hearing. I agree that there has to be a determination if someone was really gay - and yes, sometimes a butch gay man has to play up some femme stereotype to make it believable since there is no "litmus" test of gay. But to apply some warped value system without regard to context, or common sense - that was unfair. It is ironic that an Albertan would judge an adolescent for NOT having sex while he was busy being at the mercy of religious types, but I think she just said that in order to have a reason to turn him down. Anyway, the Justice Dept gave him a 2 month deferral so we can do whatever we need to do to get him status. It is good news, but before we are too happy, that was the LEAST the Conservative govt could have done when the Minister has the power to grant him status here instantly.