A gay Tunisian refugee should have done more to report sexual abuse to the police – even though it was the police who abused him.
That’s according to German officials who initially turned down his asylum case.
The 28-year-old was ‘partially out’ as a gay man in Tunisia.
This was enough to get him arrested by the Tunisian police. Once in custody they physically and sexually assaulted him.
The full details of what they did to him are not known. But beatings in custody and ‘anal probe tests’ are well-documented in Tunisia.
‘Anal probe tests’ are widely considered by human rights organizations to be torture.
He then fled to Germany.
In an asylum hearing, he told the authorities being able to live as an openly gay man, and to ‘represent the queer community on the street’, was important to him.s
But German authorities turned him down for asylum. They said he had not done enough to report to the police their fellow officers had assaulted him.
In their decision, the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) added some Tunisian police assaulting the man was not enough for him to get asylum.
Instead they blamed him for his ‘behavior’ and implied he could have avoided the police torture techniques in the first place.
‘Possible lapses of individual police officers cannot be transferred to the entirety of the Tunisian state’s security forces,’ they said.
‘The applicant has to attribute his behavior to himself.’
The agency’s decision was heavily criticized, with activists calling it ‘inhuman’.
The Queer Refugees Network Leipzig (QRNL) drew attention to the case. When other activists got involved, the BAMF backtracked and said they’d think again.
And on Tuesday (7 February), officials finally gave him refugee status.
This means he will be allowed to stay in Germany.
Second gay Tunisian refugee now hopeful
A second gay Tunisian man supported by QNRL was also turned down at the same time.
The second refugee says he was repeatedly assaulted and abused by family members as well as strangers in his home country.
He still suffers from the physical and psychological consequences.
The BAMF said he did not qualify for asylum because he ‘can continue to live in Tunisia without fearing persecution’.
While still in Tunisia, he also kept his sexuality discreet and was only out to a few people. So German officials said this proved he could stay in the closet in Tunisia and didn’t need asylum.
They said his sexuality was not ‘important or identity defining’ for the man.
His case is still being re-evaluated, but the QRNL is hopeful.
‘It’s hard for me to give a prognosis,’ Sabrina Latz, spokesperson for the QRNL, told Gay Star News.
‘Against any and all guidelines the BAMF themselves have, they still decided against both of them.
‘Something simply went wrong there, internally, but in my opinion persecution is still present in this case.’
The Network is now upbeat about the second refugees chances, hoping the BAMF will also grant him asylum.