“Volunteering at HALC was an incredible experience which has shaped my career and instilled a passion in me to help our society’s most vulnerable members.”
On my first day at HALC I started working with Amir, a gay Lebanese man, who had just been refused a refugee visa and was appealing the decision.
Amir first approached us with his wife. He broke down and confirmed that he had fled Lebanon because he is gay and thought he would be murdered by his family or other people from the community if his sexuality ever became known. His wife felt compelled to help him and found HALC to assist. At this point he had already been refused a protection visa by the department of immigration and an appeal to the tribunal was his only option.
Amir was extremely traumatized and fearful of expressing his true claims. He had faced physical attacks because of his sexuality and had been a victim of child sexual abuse. Due to family pressure and fear of being found out, he entered into more than one marriage with a woman. Amir had a difficult case, due to his prior lodgement of partner visas, where he was being sponsored by a woman. Amir also suffered from some intellectual impairments that made it difficult for him to express himself.
We prepared detailed submissions and represented Amir at his Tribunal hearing. The Tribunal accepted Amir’s account of his sexuality and that there was a real chance he would be persecuted if returned to Lebanon, and he was then granted a permanent protection and remains living in Australia where he can freely express his sexuality.
Amir had no money, limited education and limited access to resources. He was suffering from trauma as a result of the life he had lived in Lebanon. His wife, although extremely helpful lacked financial resources to pay for assistance. Additionally his claims were such that he required the assistance of an organization that had extensive experience, like HALC did in these types of matters. I have no doubt that the work undertaken by HALC on this matter changed the course of his life forever. The work I did with Amir had a profound impact on the course of my life as a solicitor. After working on Amir’s case I knew that I needed to help refugees, which is what I still do this day. If I hadn’t had the experiences I had at HALC, I highly doubt that I would have started on a path that allowed for me to engage in such meaningful work.
*names of clients have been changed to respect and protect their confidentiality