Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Asylum Ruling: The Right To Life vs The Right To Kylie

Today saw a landmark ruling by the British Supreme Court on gay immigration.
Lesbians and gay men seeking asylum in the UK were regularly being told by the Immigration Office to return home and to behave "discreetly"; ie to go back in the closet.
Today's ruling said that was a nonsense.
"To compel a homosexual person to pretend that their sexuality does not exist, or that the behaviour by which it manifests itself can be suppressed, is to deny him his fundamental right to be who he is. Homosexuals are as much entitled to freedom of association with others of the same sexual orientation, and to freedom of self-expression in matters that affect their
sexuality, as people who are straight."
But the ever-odious Daily Mail has already fired the opening salvo against it.
Their online headline reads; "Gay men must be free to enjoy Kylie concerts and cocktails: Judge's extraordinary ruling in homosexual asylum case."
This fatuous and trivialising "Kylie and cocktails" angle is already being take up on the blogosphere - expect it to be taken up by the "You couldn't make it up!" sections of the media.
Expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth about "Activist Judges".
And expect even more misinformation that the ruling means gay men should be granted asylum just so they can listen to Kylie - the two men in the cases before the Supreme Court were based on claims of serious persecution.
The Cameroonian, for example, claimed he was attacked by a mob from his local church after they'd heard he had been seen kissing his boyfriend, they attacked him with sticks and stones, tried to cut off his penis, and threatened to kill him, and when the police arrived he was punched and kicked by them, and ended up hospitalised for two months.
We are talking about something more than "The right to Kylie" here.
Yes, it was alluded to in Lord Rodgers' very lengthy judgment - which you can read in summary here and in its full 55 pages here.
But he was using it as a deliberately flip way to illustrate a very important and serious point.
"What is protected is the applicant's right to live freely and openly as a gay man. That involves a wide spectrum of conduct going well beyond conduct designed to attract sexual partners and maintain relations with them" [76, Page 38].
Meaning that Rodgers recognises that being gay has not just sexual, but also social and cultural characteristics.
He then goes on to explain; "To illustrate the point with trivial stereotypical examples from British society [Emphasis added]: just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates..."
"In other words, gay men are to be as free as their straight equivalents in the society concerned to live their lives in the way that is natural to them as gay men, without the fear of persecution."
And who can say fairer than that?
Let's see if it works in practice.
Oh, and I don't know any gay men who drink "exotically coloured cocktails", by the way.

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