Apparently, as far as the Canadian government is concerned, to be gay enough, you must look gay. Preferably wearing a gown with a plunging neckline, just a little touch of makeup, and, well, you can't go wrong with a tiara, now can you?
The Immigration and Refugee Board has rejected the asylum case of a Mexican homosexual man on the grounds that he is not "visibly effeminate" and therefore not vulnerable to persecution in his homeland.
Fernando Enrique Rivera, who lifts weights, wears his hair closely cropped and favours jeans and conservative sports shirts, believes the IRB's decision shows a stereotypical understanding of homosexuality. "I know some gay refugees who put on lipstick and dressed effeminately for their hearings because they thought it would help their case. But that is not who I am," Mr. Rivera said in an interview in a Church Street eatery in the heart of Toronto's gay village. "You don't choose to be gay. It's not like being a vegetarian. It's a very complex thing."
During the interview, a waiter jokingly chided him: "Your problem is, you're too butch." IRB member Milagros Eustaquio essentially came to the same conclusion. "Effeminate gestures come naturally and unconsciously," she wrote in her decision in December, 2002. "If he were indeed visibly effeminate, I do not think it is likely he would have been able to easily land a job with the 'macho' police force of Puerto Vallarta."
Last month, the federal court upheld the IRB ruling and now Mr. Rivera fears he could be deported if his final avenue of appeal -- a humanitarian and compassionate review -- fails.
Canada seems to ask for likelihood of persecution, or a realistic fear thereof. Fair enough. You'd think this would be proof, wouldn't you?
The IRB believed his story. But the panel member also found that Mr. Rivera could relocate to Mexico City where conditions for homosexuals are more favourable. Only effeminate men, HIV-positive men, political activists and whistle blowers in Mexico need refugee protection, according to documentary evidence relied on by the IRB. [...] He said he fled after he was repeatedly the victim of police extortion. He believed Canada would offer him a haven and he did not want to pretend to be effeminate to bolster his chances of success with the refugee process. "I believed in the system and I still do," Mr. Rivera said. "Canada is an open society with so much diversity. I can't go back to Mexico to lead a life of deception. I want to be in a society that accepts me the way I am."
A 2003 report from the Washington-based World Policy Institute says that despite human-rights codes outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, local officials abuse gays in some parts of Mexico.
So. We have a person who has been blackmailed, who stayed in the closet due to (clearly) a well founded fear of persecution. We have a report from an international organization stating that local officials in parts of Mexico are abusive to gays.
But, alas, that don't matter. Poor guy just isn't gay enough.Posted by iain at May 04, 2004 06:02 PM