“I knew from the age of four that I was gay and by the time I was a teenager, I knew I could not stay in my country.”
“I convinced my parents that I should study outside of Iran to improve my job prospects.
Living abroad I finally had tasted freedom. I realised that I am not the only gay person in the world.”
“Life in Iran is very different compared to life in Australia. Family is involved in every decision of life in Iran. There is not such a thing as individuality. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties and living here in Australia that I finally came out to my parents as gay: the truth of who I am.”
Unfortunately, Sina’s family did not take his coming out well.
“It was the most painful and hurtful experience of my life. Because of their reaction, I could never live safely again in Iran.”
In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death.
“I was so scared. I had nothing, I had no country to call home.”
Sina began the long process of applying to seek protection in Australia.
“I know a lot about building, but not about legal matters. I have written a PhD thesis in English about construction, but I could not understand the asylum seeker application process. I am very lucky that the ASRC lawyers took on my case.”
“I was so anxious that I would be sent back to Iran. This fear impacted my whole life! Even my body was dying of fear. I had not slept a peaceful night or had a peaceful meal since the day I came from Iran to the day I got my Protection Visa. This was in addition to the horrifying isolation I found myself trapped in. I literally had no one to talk to.
On the day before my interview with the Department of Immigration, the day before I would have my chance to stand up and explain why I needed protection, I met with my lawyer at the ASRC.
This was the day before someone would decide if my life was worth protecting or if I should be returned to a place where I had no freedom and I could be killed.
That day I was pacing around the waiting area while waiting for my lawyer. I was so scared. Finally we met. My lawyer knew my case like no one else and she knew exactly what I was up against.
She was the best person at that moment who could provide me with the reassurance I needed to focus and do my best. Even knowing that she would be there with me throughout the interview, was helpful.
After I met with my lawyer, I was back in the waiting room; in that room there were so many others like me, just trying to get the most basic things in life, a place to call home. I have no idea what had happened in my psyche at that moment, but I started feeling a great sense of peace; I never felt such a thing before. I think there is a great flow of energy in that centre which supports and helps you. You can see it in the whole place, and in people’s eyes, they care deeply.
The ASRC lawyer was one of the biggest helps I could ever get from anyone. With her, I felt that there was someone I could trust to guide me through the system, right beside me. It was a huge comfort. I know that those people are not doing this for money, they’re doing it to help. They helped me to put my best case forward.
The ASRC is the door that can be opened to a new home; a safe home; a safe haven. I will never forget the sense of freedom & peace I felt in ASRC centre.”
With a lawyer by his side, Sina’s application for protection was approved. Last week he came back the ASRC to personally thank the Principal Lawyer of the Human Rights Law Program, Carolyn Graydon. They shared a meal and talked together.
“This time I stood in line at ASRC Foodbank and that was the first proper meal that I had eaten after 3 years.”
“My application was approved and now I have my freedom to be me. The ASRC lawyer helped me to pass the most difficult stage of my life – looking for a safe home. I just wanted to say thank you in person. I am eating normally again, I’m back at the gym and I’m working six days a week as a construction project manager now. I want to become very successful, because the greater success that I have, the more I can give back to help people just like me, people who are simply trying to find a place they can call home.”
In the words of the ASRC’s Principal Solicitor, Carolyn Graydon:
“It was a huge privilege to work for Sina, such a strong, generous and focused person, and to support him throughout what was a really stressful and difficult process. I’m so proud of my team that they are able to help achieve such life-changing outcomes for the amazing people we work for, that gives them safety and freedom for the first time in many years. It’s a lot of hard work, and there are also many times of sadness, but there is nothing more wonderful than those moments of joyful celebration with a client; an occasion that creates a unique connection between us. It is especially satisfying to know that it was a lawyer’s skills and support that made all the difference.”
When we protect human rights, we provide hope.
Hope provides power.
Power changes lives.
Please stand with us and donate today to give people a fighting chance to live safely here.
Your donation funds the ASRC Human Rights Law Program and puts an ASRC lawyer on the side of people seeking asylum.
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