IRELAND: Man to be deported to Zim after claiming to be gay for refugee status

A man who claimed he was gay in order to win international protection has had his claim for refugee status dismissed by the High Court.

The court said that the man, a Zimbabwean national, had a number of major inconsistencies in his story, with different dates given for when he first realised he was gay, how long he had been with his partner for, and when his partner died following an alleged attack.

Judge Tara Burns said she could not see any error by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal in refusing to grant him refugee status.

Giving the background to the case, she said the man, who is in his mid-40s but cannot be identified for legal reasons, had applied for protection in Ireland in November 2016.

His claim was based on an assertion that he would face persecution because of his sexual orientation if returned to Zimbabwe.

She said he had filled in a questionnaire and attended an interview, but was refused a declaration of refugee status by the International Protection Office in March 2019. He appealed to the tribunal, which held an oral hearing, but his application was again rejected, due to the inconsistencies in his story.

Part of his complaint to the High Court was that he had not been given the benefit of the doubt.

Judge Burns noted that the man had claimed he was in a relationship in Zimbabwe with his male partner. He said Zanu PF youths – a wing of the national ruling party – had threatened to kill him and his boyfriend.

He said that in September 2016, Zanu PF youths entered his partner’s house in a menacing manner. He said he fled, but his partner was attacked and seriously injured.

He added that his mother told him his partner had been hospitalised and had subsequently died, so he left Zimbabwe.

Judge Burns said the tribunal had determined that the man did not know the date of his partner’s death, or when his partner’s funeral took place, and his explanation at the hearing was that he never asked his mother for that information. He did not know what injuries his partner had suffered either.

The tribunal also said the man had given two different ages – ten and 15 – for when he realised he was gay, and two different ages – around 26 and 34 – for when he started the relationship with his partner.

Judge Burns cited a section of the tribunal’s decision, which stated: ‘Considering that the [man] has stated that this was his only relationship, and his claim is entirely based around this relationship, the tribunal does not find it credible that the [man] could not give an approximate age for when this relationship began.’

She said the tribunal had clearly considered the man’s evidence before coming to its decision, and that she could not see any error on its part. Her ruling clears the way for the man to be returned to Zimbabwe.

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