Pop quiz: What do the six colors on the rainbow Pride flag mean? Don’t know? Congratulations, you’ve been denied political asylum in Austria. It sounds silly, but Vienna’s Federal Office for Aliens and Asylum refused a gay Iranian asylum when he couldn’t explain the LGBTQ flag colors meaning. (Because if you don’t know red on the Pride flag represents life, then you’re not really queer, are you?)
The man’s name is Navid. He fled Iran in 2014, fearing for his own safety as a gay man, and set up a life in Vienna. Queer Base, an Austrian organization that helps queer refugees of anti-LGBTQ violence secure political asylum, helped Navid with his asylum process.
But Vienna’s Federal Office for Aliens and Asylum didn’t consider Navid’s partner a suitable witness to help testify for Navid’s need for asylum. Instead, the office sought to prove Navid’s homosexuality by asking him to explain what the Pride flag’s colors mean.
Keep in mind, almost no actual LGBTQ people know what all of the colors in the rainbow Pride flag represent because it was invented in 1976 by Gilbert Baker, a hippie-dippy art lover who gave weird meanings to all of the original colors.
Most people just think the rainbow represents diversity and pride, but the red is life, orange is healing, yellow is sunlight, green is nature, blue is serenity and purple is spirit. But who the heck even knows that?
In a recent interview, Mary Huber of Queer Base said that these sorts of questions show flaws in the LGBTQ asylum process because they’re actually kind of a trap. “These kind of questions seem to be very often asked for two reasons,” she said. “If you cannot answer them, you are not believable and if you can answer them, you are not believable either.”
Thankfully, Queer Base helped raise media attention around Navid’s case and he was eventually granted political asylum after the Federal Administrative Court overruled the Office for Aliens and Asylum and granted him asylum on Aug. 13.
But his case makes you wonder how many other LGBTQ refugees have been denied for similarly ridiculous reasons.
What do you think of Vienna initially refusing a gay Iranian asylum because he couldn’t explain the LGBTQ flag colors meaning?