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Humiliating Questions for Homosexual Asylum Seekers in Belgium

by our Editors in General , 30 april 2014

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

The increase in the number of gay asylum seekers in Belgium put those who have to evaluate their files in an increasingly difficult position. How do you prove homosexuality? In Poland they prove it with psychiatric observation. Belgium asks rude questions: "When did you have anal and/or oral sex for the first time?"

Increasingly, homosexuals ask for and are granted asylum. Last year, there were 1,125 requests, while in 2007 there were 188. The Head of the General Commission for Refugees and the Stateless (CGVS) Dirk Van den Bulck thinks the rising number of requests for asylum is due to a worsening of the situation for homosexuals in their country of origin. Uganda saw the signing of a law that extends the prison term for homosexuals from fourteen years to a possible life-long sentence. Belgium has become more known as a gay-friendly country. "This is a positive thing, as it protects those who deserve protection. The downside is that some traffickers offer 'LGTB specials' for Belgium. Or that granting asylum will lead to the people from that country claiming they are homosexual."

About 20% of gays, lesbians and bisexuals is granted asylum. To track down frauds, questions are asked about how people are experiencing their sexuality. If the applicant has kept his orientation hidden up to that point, the interviewer will investigate how this refugee found out he or she is attracted to someone of the same sex. "Those are intimate questions," Van den Bulck says. "But we have no other choice." In 2011, researchers Sabine Jansen and Thomas Spijkerbroek of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam examined how homosexuality is tested in 25 different countries. In Belgium, asylum seekers can expect the question when they have touched the genitals of someone of the same sex for the first time, when their first French kiss was, and when they had oral or anal sex for the first time.

Jansen and Spijkerboer wrote that Belgian interviewers are inclined "only to find a homosexual relationship relevant if (anal or oral) sex is involved". A complaint the Flanders Council for Refugees incorporated into a critical report. Van den Bulck says that the GCSV "wants to prevent thinking in clichés," and that someone who has yet to openly experience their sexuality, can be eligible too.

In various Eastern-European countries and in Germany, lesbian, gays and bisexuals are not only questioned, but also examined by a team of doctors and psychologists. Bulgaria, Poland and Romania send homosexuals to a psychiatric clinic for observation. In the United Kingdom, an internal from the British Ministry of Internal Affairs revealed how far some interviewers go. During an interview that lasted five hours, a bisexual man was questioned whether he had penetrated person X anally, and whether he had had an erection at that time. The man had to tell what he found so attractive about "the buttocks of a man" and if he found "the way men walk" exciting. The Czech Republic made the news in 2010 with the 'peter-meter,' a device that registers excitement by sensors on private parts, while asylum seekers had to watch straight and gay porn. The Czech government responded that the test was only "used in a dozen doubtful cases" at the most. After a reprimand by the European Committee, the country claims to have discontinued the use of the peter-meter.




In the New Issue of Gay News, 322, June 2018

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