Gay couple wins tribunal appeal
Egyptian-born Mohamed (Mike) Sarhan won recognition from the Refugee Review Tribunal this week, the same body that previously accused him of faking his homosexuality to obtain asylum.
The ruling on Tuesday by RRT member Susan Pinto acknowledged that Sarhan was gay and had a genuine fear of persecution in his home country because his sexuality was known.
“The Tribunal accepts that in Egypt homosexuals face mistreatment amounting to persecution,” Pinto wrote, describing ostracism from families, vilification in the press, harassment by public agencies, arrests and physical harm.
She accepted that if Sarhan were to return, authorities would discover his homosexuality and he would be at risk of human rights abuses and serious harm.
Pinto also rejected an argument previously used to deny refugee status to homosexuals, that the applicant could relocate to another part of the country to escape persecution.
His Australian partner Brad Calderon said it was astounding that two different RRT members could rule so differently on the same evidence.
“The previous member accused us of making it all up. My advice to anyone going through this is to keep objecting,” Calderon said.
Sarhan must still pass Immigration Department checks on medical, character and criminal record before he will be granted a protection visa.
The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is writing a report for the RRT on sexuality issues and has used Sarhan’s original hearing as an example of getting it wrong.
Training for RRT members on sexuality issues is expected to start in October.