4 Oct 2015

Lesbian wins deportation battle

6:39 am on 4 October 2015

A woman who faces abuse in Fiji because she married another woman has won a battle against deportation and can now remain in New Zealand.

The Fijian Indian woman said she and her New Zealand-resident partner were deeply in love, but gay relationships were not acceptable in Indian culture.

Immigration New Zealand said it wasn't satisfied they were in a stable relationship as they had married a fortnight after discovering the woman had been turned down for a work visa.

But the couple appealed her deportation, claiming they had been living together since 2010.

The 30-year-old woman said she feared being physically abused if family and friends found out about the relationship.

The Immigration and Protection Tribunal said if the woman was deported the couple would likely be separated as they could not readily live together for any period in Fiji.

"The appellant has not declared her relationship to her family in Fiji. She describes them as typical villagers and very religious.

"They have little knowledge of same-sex relationships which are not acceptable in Indian culture so they would be heavily critical and ashamed.

"She fears that their shame could be so extreme that they might even contemplate suicide.

"If she was in Fiji and the family knew of the true situation, she expects that they would treat her badly."

It said her humanitarian circumstances, and potential risk to her safety, meant it would be unduly harsh to deport her.

"The Tribunal has reviewed all of the available evidence and accepts that the relationship has been in existence for some years," it said.

"It is also accepted that the appellant's failure to previously declare the relationship reflected the reticence the couple felt about openly acknowledging being in a same-sex relationship because of the prejudice towards such relationships displayed by many in the Indian community."