Austria rejects 'girlish' Iraqi asylum seeker

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A woman protesting for the rights of asylum seekers in Austria

Austrian officials rejected an Iraqi migrant's asylum application because he was too "girlish", local media say.

The 27-year-old's claim to be gay was deemed "unbelievable", in part due to his behaviour, according to reports. He can appeal against the decision.

It comes just days after Amnesty International criticised Austria's asylum processes as "dubious".

The government has hit back at the criticism, saying its asylum officials work appropriately.

In the latest case, the Iraqi asylum seeker was felt to exhibit "stereotypical, in any case excessive 'girlish' behaviour (expressions, gestures)", which seemed fake, Austria's Kurier newspaper reported.

Said to be an active member in local LGBT groups, he is understood to have fled Iraq in 2015, fearing for his life.

However a spokesman for Austria's asylum office said the decision had been reviewed, and rejected the accusation it contained any "clichéd phrasing" by officials in Styria state, Kurier added.

It is the second controversial asylum case in recent days.

Last week, activists said that an 18-year-old Afghan asylum seeker had his application rejected because he did not "act or dress" like a homosexual.

"The inhuman language in asylum claims does not conform with the requirements of a fair, rule-of-law procedure," Amnesty International said in a report.

Interior Ministry spokesman Christoph Poelzl also rejected the accusation officials used "inhuman" language, telling news agency AFP that all employees who assess asylum claims receive training.

However, the official involved in the Afghan asylum seeker's case is no longer involved in assessing applications, he added.

Austria is currently run by a coalition of the conservative People's Party and the far-right Freedom Party, which came to power following an election dominated by Europe's migrant crisis last year.

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