Gay Indian student granted refugee status in Australia

Published: April 23, 2014

Melbourne:  A 25-year-old gay Indian student who fled to Australia to escape a forced marriage arranged by his Muslim family has been granted refugee status.

 
The commerce graduate, who lives with his boyfriend in New South Wales, arrived on a student visa in March 2009 to study business management but he withdrew from the diploma course after six months.
 
He claimed that his father locked him in a bedroom and demanded that he enter the arranged marriage with an Indian woman when he last went to his home in Hyderabad in 2011.
 
He alleged that his male cousins also assaulted him, twisting his nose and holding a knife against his throat as a threat against his life unless he changed his sexuality.
 
The student escaped his family home with the help of a female friend, hiding in her house until he could use his return ticket to reach Australia.
 
He was granted refugee status by Australia’s Refugee Review Tribunal, The Australian reported today.
 
The Immigration Department in July 2012 accepted that the asylum-seeker was homosexual but rejected the claim that the mistreatment amounted to persecution.
 
It also found that he could safely move to another Indian city to escape danger.
 
The tribunal in January ruled that if he returned to Hyderabad it was "reasonable to believe he would be assaulted and probably forced to marry, and if he were to refuse he would probably face more serious harm and be killed".
 
"If the applicant were to return and try to relocate this would result in his being disowned by his family and probably they would seek to find and harm him," the tribunal found.
 
"His father works for (a government department). It is reasonable to accept that he would engage the police to find him.
 
"I also accept that he would not be able to live openly as a homosexual in India at any location, as if he did this would result in ostracism and probable further significant harm." 
 
The young man also feared persecution in employment and the rental market, and faced the prospect of being laughed at and mocked for living with his boyfriend, the tribunal heard.
 
The tribunal heard the young man and his partner, whom he met a day after arriving in Australia, registered to marry in the Australian Capital Territory before the High Court struck down the territory’s same-sex marriage legislation.
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