There’s this thing in the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales that it isn’t a criminal offence to think something. The line is blurred with conspiracy, where talking about something doesn’t actually require the illegal act to be done, but I could think something truly awful in my mind and “get away with it”.
That, of course, is partly because of the practical limitations of proving you’ve thought it.
A 67-year-old man called Yew Fook Sam faces deportation to Malaysia because Home Office officials, and a tribunal judge, refuse to believe he is gay. He has been seeking asylum in the UK after he arrived in 2005 to escape a wife who had found out he had been having sex with ladyboys.
Sam (as he is known) says that he will be persecuted if he returns to Malaysia, a country whose opposition leader blamed gay people for causing earthquakes and where a lesbian couple were caned for having sex in a car. I understand that the offence was the sex, and it wasn’t necessarily because the car was moving and that it was quite dangerous to not be concentrating on the road.
However, a tribunal have decided that he might not be gay because Sam does not currently have a boyfriend. Sam notes that being 67 years old with chronic illnesses as well as living in England despite not really being able to speak English provides all sorts of limitations to finding a boyfriend. As such, deportation may still be on the cards.
Essentially the tribunal have said that homosexuality is an easy thing to fake if it proves useful. All talk and no action. This was a similar argument to that that I put forward at university against civil partnerships, that it’s easy to fake and that, maybe without the pomp and ceremony, can be seen as an administrative activity much in the same way as claiming job seekers’ allowance if the claimants were so inclined.
The tribunal ruled that there was no evidence of Sam being in a homosexual relationship for 11 years up until 2016 when everything kicked off. Importantly, they phrase is as this:
The Appellant is unable to produce as a witness single person in the UK who can vouch for the Appellant in terms of being or having been in a homosexual relationship with him either a loving relationship or a sexual one. Given that the Appellant left Malaysia in order to express his sexuality I find that incredible.
Fair point, is it not? You can, after all, be in love with someone without having sex with them, but I would venture that being asexual would not cast doubt upon the legitimacy of that person’s sexuality.
However, if he had been having sex with ladyboys he had expressed his sexuality (to an extent) in Malaysia, so what the tribunal are essentially saying is that they don’t believe him on two counts, that of his sexuality and that of his reason for leaving his country of birth.
So this goes back to the point I started with… to what degree does a thought or ideology have to manifest to make it real?