An Iraqi man whose asylum application was rejected by Austrian authorities over claims he was only “acting” gay has said the prospect of returning to his home country makes him fear for his life after he was outed by immigration officials during their interrogation of his family.
The 27-year-old, who gave his name only as Firas, had his application rejected following a six-hour interview because he was deemed to be acting up to the stereotype of a gay man.
He said his sexuality had been revealed to his father and brother during questioning despite assurances the information he had provided to Austrian officials would remain confidential.
He now plans to challenge the decision in the Austrian courts.
“I told the interviewer my family don’t know everything [about my sexuality] because of my culture and religion,” he told The Independent during a phone interview from Graz in southern Austria.
“The interviewer said it was private. But then my father was asked [by Austrian immigration officials] if he knew his son was gay, and my father said I wasn’t and that I had invited girlfriends round for lunch. After that, my application was rejected. They said I was acting and trying to look like a girl. I was told I could move back to Iraq and keep my sexuality a secret as I had already done that when I was growing up.”