Security guards patrol the grounds at an immigration detention centre in Sydney, Australia in 2005. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
A gay Pakistani couple who fled to Australia have been granted a temporary reprieve after asylum courts initially said their sexuality was “implausible”.
Both asylum seekers appealed after their applications for permanent protection visas were rejected, and the Federal Court of Australia has now given them another chance to prove their case.
The men, whose names have been withheld for their safety, are identified only as A, aged 29 and D, who is 33. Both say they had feelings for each other since they were at high school in Pakistan.
They arrived in Australia in 2009 on student visas and shared a room in the house of A’s brother in Melbourne. After their visas expired they applied for asylum, but the courts refused to believe they were a couple as it appeared they had fabricated their first sexual encounter.
According to the Star Observer, the men claimed they shared their first sexual experience together in 2010 after A’s birthday party.
“As we were both drunk, we couldn’t control expressing our feelings that night and finally we shared all pleasures gay couples would do,” their application stated.
“Since then, we have been sharing the same room and in a relationship as well… our relationship continued to grow stronger, we always spent time together. We hang out together, we party together… But we never disclose our relationship to anyone whether it is our friend or family.”
A said they hadn’t immediately spoken after having sex about and went about their normal routine, before having sex again a few weeks later.
But D told the tribunal that they discussed it that night, and had sex for the second time a few days later.
The discrepancies in their accounts, remembered years after the incident, was one of the main reasons their application for asylum was refused.
The tribunal said they found it “implausible” that the couple would go on with their normal routine after having sex for the first time and not discuss the implications or their sexuality in the aftermath of that first sexual encounter.
Another reason cited was the fact that the men spent some time apart between 2011 and 2013 as they travelled internationally.
The court was also apparently unable to understand why the couple would visit gay clubs and saunas in Australia, where it is safe to be gay, while keeping their relationship a secret from their family in Pakistan, where it is not safe to be gay.
The Federal Court of Australia judged the tribunal’s reasoning to be “logically flawed and thereby irrational”, and ordered the case to be reconsidered by a different member of the tribunal.