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New Zealand throws lifeline to gay Pakistani man with refugee status

New Zealand throws lifeline to gay Pakistani man with refugee status

Close on the heels of a gay Filipino emigrant to California succeeding in warding off his deportation because of his sexual orientation, a gay Pakistani has won refugee status in New Zealand.

“AO”, in his 50s, told the Immigration and Protection Tribunal he had endured continual verbal abuse, bullying and violence in his home town in northern Pakistan, a conservative Islamic region, reported.

When he won a scholarship to study art and design at university, his father prevented him from accepting it, calling the course “effeminate”.

Consequently, he spent five years studying subjects that did not interest him and flunked his examinations.

Once he tried to kill himself but was rushed to hospital before the overdose of sleeping pills could take effect.

After an initial visit to New Zealand in 1985, AO returned there again in 1999.

He made various attempts to acquire resident status, including agreeing to pay a New Zealand woman $2,000 to enter into a paper marriage with him.

When all attempts failed, he stayed on illegally, barely managing to survive.

In 2011, he finally appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal and his plea was supported by a Pakistani transgender.

The tribunal, after looking at the position of homosexuals in Pakistan, decided to grant him refugee status.

While Pakistan’s Penal Code prescribes jail for men who have sex with men, its Islamic laws decree that homosexuals be stoned to death.

“If his sexuality were to become apparent it is clear from the country information that there is a real chance that he would be exposed to serious harm,” the tribunal said in its decision.

“It may be in the form of assault or arbitrary detention. It could be worse”

It recognized that AO is under no obligation to suppress his sexuality:

“He has the right to live a meaningful private life, and the right to be treated equally and without discrimination.”