Ali Choudhry expects to be deported by the Australian Government on 8 January after it determined that his four year relationship with Brisbane doctor Matthew Hynd did not constitute a ‘longstanding relationship.’
‘[We] do not consider that you are in a long-standing relationship with your sponsor,’ the Immigration Department wrote to Choudhry in response to the couple’s attempt to obtain a partnership visa.
Choudhry was born in Pakistan but has lived most of his life in North America and originally came to Australia on a student visa to study Zoology.
Choudhry and Hynd, an Australian, began a long distance relationship after meeting online in February of 2010 while Hydn had been working for the New York State Department of Health.
In August of 2010 Hynd returned to Australia for a holiday and the couple met in person for the first time.
Hynd quit his job in December of that year and returned to Australia to be with Choudhry.
Choudhry’s possessions were been destroyed during heavy floods in Queensland in January of 2011 which destroyed the house he had been living in but the Australian Immigration Department sent his student visa renewal paperwork to his old address and it did not get forwarded to him.
The Immigration Department emailed him a few months later asking him if he was still in the country as his visa had expired.
In response the couple sought a partnership visa for Choudhry to stay in the country – something that usually takes less than six months to be processed but the Immigration Department took two years to process and reject their application.
In the meantime the pair entered into a civil union in March of 2012 under a Queensland state law which was then repealed by the incoming Liberal-National Coalition Queensland Government of Premier Campbell Newman three months later.
As a result their civil union was annulled.
The couple sought a review of the rejection of the partnership visa application by Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison two weeks ago but that was also rejected.
The couple are now seeking to appeal the decision to the Migration Review Tribunal but if they are denied that Choudhry is scheduled to be deported to Pakistan on 8 January – which is also his birthday.
Pakistan punished people with life imprisonment if found guilty of committing homosexual acts.
Choudhry lived most of his life in the United States and also spent some time studying in Canada so the couple hope to send him to either of those countries on a tourist visa if their appeal is rejected.
Campaigners for same-sex marriage equality have thrown their weight behind the couple and say the case highlights the difficulties faced by same-sex couples when they had no legal way of formalizing their relationships in most parts of Australia.
‘This incident highlights the difficulties the LGBTI community faces by not having equal relationship recognition in Australia,’ Australian Marriage Equality deputy director Ivan Hinton said.
‘It illustrates the important human rights protections and recognition that comes with marriage and this is currently denied to loving same-sex couples in Australia.’