There is nothing bogus about the real life events which Gary shared with me. As a gay man in a small Caribbean Island country he tells me he had no social life. He was afraid of being out in public, and pretty much went from home to work and not much else. He had a job but was repeatedly the target of verbal and psychological abuse as a man who everyone suspected was gay.
There were no shelters or social groups for him to turn to. He never got beaten up, but that was because he didn’t put himself into dangerous situations. He thought the best way to stay safe was to stay under the radar and not make himself visible. The laws in his country provide for a 15 year prison sentence for homosexual acts. He knew it would be foolish to make complaints about mistreatment which might only draw further unwanted attention.
In order to escape the conditions in which he lived he travelled. He saved money for visits to Canada and at one point came to attend school. While in Canada he discovered that he didn’t need to hide; he got a life! He also discovered it was possible to make a refugee claim based on sexual orientation. Who knew? He made a refugee claim and got rejected. The decision maker said, given his history, there was no chance that he would be persecuted in the future.Was Gary bogus?
Fast forward four years and what do we find? Today Gary is back in the country of his birth. He has become a recluse. He has no friends and his family despises him. Some family members refuse to visit him and he is not allowed to have contact with his nieces and nephews. He had to leave the family home on Christmas day so the rest of his family could celebrate Christmas ‘properly’. He suffers anxiety attacks when he goes out doors.
He tells me that just because individuals are afraid to report persecution and violence does not mean that it does not exist.Governments go to great lengths to show the world that their beautiful country is safe; even though there is widespread homophobia and stigma. Gary wonders if he should have set himself up for a homophobic attack in order to bolster his refugee claim.
Gary knows there is nothing bogus about the life he leads today; hiding for fear of stigma, discrimination and violence; being despised by his family and afraid to go outdoors. And there was nothing bogus about the brief fleeting flirtation he had with freedom while living openly as a gay man in Canada for a few short years.
Gary feels the hurt and hate behind the word “bogus.” He applauds efforts to speak out against such language and wants us to know that just because someone’s claim is denied that that does NOT make it bogus.
Gary is looking for a place where he can live and be free from discrimination, violence and hate. He wants to return to Canada.
I wish I had a magic wand.
*For More Information Read: The Bogus Rhetoric About Bogus Refugees