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Australia tried to suppress interview with a gay refugee: ‘Do you drink cum?’

Australia tried to suppress interview with a gay refugee: ‘Do you drink cum?’

Afghan gay teen asylum seeker rejected

Australia’s government tried to suppress an interview with a gay refugee that contained ‘highly inappropriate’ questions.

Asylum officials asked a refugee if he swallowed ‘cum’ to see if he’s gay.

Documents the Department of Home Officials tried to suppress show officials asked highly personal questions to two Bangladeshi men.

The interview, from 2012, came to light following a Freedom of Information request from Buzzfeed News.

The information does not reveal their identities. It refers to them simply as Applicant A and Applicant B. An officer at the then-Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s headquarters in Sydney quizzed the men.

Repeated questions about applicant’s sex life

The interviewer asked the men repeated questions about their sex lives together. Applicant A was asked when he’d last had sex with Applicant B, in what room, and exactly how long it had lasted.

He was asked what they had done during sex, who had performed oral sex on whom, and whether one or both of them ejaculated. Questions about condom use also arose.

Applicant A said that the two men had been for a sexual health check-up. This prompted further questions to determine the reasons why. These included:

  • ‘Why was drinking his cum a problem?’
  • ‘So you don’t normally do that? You’ve only done that once?’
  • ‘So how long after you had swallowed his cum, how long after that did you go to’ [get a sexual health check-up]

The same officer then interviewed Applicant B and asked similar questions. He wanted to know the same details, such as how long their last sexual encounter lasted and what took place. Applicant B was quizzed on who gave oral sex first, to ensure his answers matched Applicant A.

Following this, the officer asked him three times if he swallowed Applicant A’s semen.

The officer subsequently turned down the men’s applications for protection visas.

Decision overturned on appeal

A 2014 Refugee Review Tribunal hearing overturned the officer’s decision. It judged the men could re-apply for protection. One tribunal member said, ‘I found the questions intrusive … not ones I have ever found it necessary to ask of applicants claiming to be homosexual.’

The Department for Home Affairs later admitted the questioning had been ‘inappropriate and insensitive’.

The department, however, also tried to suppress the document from coming to light.

It argued on two grounds: releasing the document would violate the men’s privacy and stop the department from doing its job.

However, the government eventually relented after 18 months. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner said it would overturn the original decision.

Even though, moreover, the document was not published online on its FOI disclosure log.

‘Given that the two documents at issue contain sensitive personal information we are proposing to only upload the decision,’ the acting assistant director of the FOI team wrote. Instead of being able to download them from the website, you can only get the documents by emailing the department.

The UN Refugee Agency guidelines state immigrations officers must not conduct inappropriate medical tests or ask for sexually explicit evidence.

‘Asylum officials should follow these clear guidelines, be knowledgeable about issues facing sexual and gender minorities, and put aside their preconceived and cultural defined notions of LGBT people should behave.’

See also

Asylum seekers asked if they drank ‘cum’ by immigration officials

Italy passes law that will reject migrants fleeing anti-gay persecution

Trans refugee possibly beaten before she died in US immigration custody