Underneath the Gaydar
A recent article in The Bulletin sheds some light about a little-considered subject (as far as I know): the relationship between sexuality and the treatment of refugees in Australia. The article itself is full of appalling puns and titillated tone, but the subject matter is still interesting. Not only does it illustrate some of the bizarre decision-making processes taken in relationship to asylum seekers who claim refuge on the basis of homosexuality, it also sheds some light on the workings of the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT). Regarding “R and J”, a gay couple claiming to be fleeing persecution in Bangladesh, who had received a favourable ruling in the High Court:
The refugee action community assumed the men had settled into Australia. But The Bulletin has found the couple are still fighting after the secretive Refugee Review Tribunal came up with a way to get rid of them: it told them they were not gay.This comes after news that a bisexual Pakistani man has been shown the door because an RRT member said the man’s bisexuality was “simply the product of the situation where only partners of the same sex were available”. That is, in Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.
In the case of R and J, their problem, according to the article, was that they were not promiscuous enough:
Most gay refugees have no problem proving their sexuality. They sleep with Australian men who testify to the RRT to that effect. The problem for R and J is that they say they’re monogamous; they don’t wish to sleep around to prove a point.
According to the article, the RRT appears to be something of a power unto itself, making ruling based on hunches, stereotypes, or a “finely calibrated” gaydar.