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Image for A couple's fight to stay together

A couple's fight to staytogether

Christmas is meant to be a time to celebrate with loved ones, but for Matthew Hynd and Ali Choudhry there’s a dark cloud of the unknown hanging over their heads.

Ali now faces deportation because according to the Australian Government, nearly four years building a life together and a civil union isn’t enough to classify their relationship as legitimate under immigration guidelines.

On the 8th of January, when Ali should be celebrating his birthday with love ones, he will be using the day to say not only farewell to the love of his live Matthew, but also the life in Brisbane they have worked so hard building together. On February the 14th they have their four-year anniversary, but they may be very far away from each other by then.

The pair have spent over $15,000 on lawyer fees and visa filing charges in the hope to prevent every transnational couple’s worst nightmare. What’s even worse is that deportation would see Ali sent back to Pakistan where he faces the fear of life imprisonment for being an openly gay man.

The couple have completely exhausting their savings, and have sold everything they have of value in hope that Ali’s Visa application would be accepted. One immigration agent even advised Ali that should just marry a woman.

With the threat of deportation now very much a reality, the pair have turned to crowd sourcing platform Pozible to raise the needed funds for an application to the Migration Review. In a prime example of the community coming together and looking after its own, within six hours enough people were touched by their story that they they raised enough funds for their application.

Same Same caught up with Ali and Matthew to get a bit more of their story.


How did the two of you meet?

Ali: As with all great modern romances we met online, in February 2010. I was studying in Australia and Matt was working with the New York State Department of Health. Over the next few months we spoke on the phone, texted and Skyped – which is harder than it sounds because of the 14-hour time difference.

In August of 2010, Matt came on a holiday back to Australia where we were able to finally meet in person. We knew right then and there that it was meant to be. After a lot of thought, Matt quit his job and moved to Australia in December 2010. On February 13, 2014 we will celebrate our four-year anniversary.

So what has your journey together been like and what lead to this point?

Ali: I came to Australia from Pakistan on a student visa. I was enrolled in a Bachelors of Science studying Zoology at the University of Queensland. In January 2011, our house in St Lucia was destroyed by the floods. A few weeks later Matt found out that his house had also been destroyed by floods in the USA. We figured this was the Universe’s way of telling us that we starting our new life together with a very clean slate. Unfortunately our problems began a few months later when we received an email from Immigration asking if I was still in the country.

Matthew: Unknown to us, Ali’s visa renewal paperwork was being sent to the destroyed house and even though we were having all our mail forwarded, somewhere along the line the papers got lost. At that point, since both the original paperwork and the appeal paperwork had been sent our next course of action was to file a application for a partnership visa.

Fast forward two and a half years and were still waiting on a decision even though partnership visa typically only take six months to be approved. Unfortunately our application was rejected, and our most recent appeal directly to the immigration minister was denied, partly because “(we) do not consider that you are in a long-standing relationship with your sponsor”. Because of this Ali will be deported back to Pakistan (his country of birth) even though he was raised and lived in America.


How did it make the two of you feel when the immigration system did not recognise your relationship?

Ali: I think the biggest surprise has actually been receiving advice from Department of Immigration official to marry a woman. I would like to clarify that he said this before he knew I was gay but after he knew I had a partner.

Just the same, this isn’t the type of advice he should have given out. 
We didn’t consider this as an option because I identify as a gay person and am in a committed relationship. Not only would marrying a woman be fraudulent, but I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had lied.


With the threat of deportation, how are the two of you coping?

Ali: When I first received the letter that my case had been denied, I was actually thinking more of Matt. I received the letter on Friday and we had a surprise birthday planned for him on the Saturday (even though his birthday wasn’t till the 18th). I kept it all to myself to protect him and at least let him have that little bit of happiness. It’s all really poetic, really… I think.When I finally told him on Sunday, we were still both in shock and not really reacting except for bursts of tears between not feeling much.

After launching our Pozible campaign and receiving overwhelming support, we think that we can actually cope with this situation. We have filled out all our paperwork and are planning on dropping it in to immigration today. It has been a real community effort.

So to answer your question, at first I was feeling protective; then we were devastated and shocked; and now we are hopeful.

It took less than six hours. Were you surprised by all the support? How does it make the two of you feel that in the time of need your community got behind you?

We were very surprised. We knew that between the two of us we had a very large support network, but we also knew that it was very close to the holidays when budgets are tight all around. We were expecting to reach our goal but not as quickly as we did.

Even with the appeal, Ali’s work rights will be refused for the average of 487 days that it takes the Migration Review Tribunal to look over the appeal. Although they’ve reached their aimed goal, people can still continue to help with the campaign as any money raised over the $2,594 goal will go towards living expenses for when he is no longer allowed to work.

We are very humbled and thankful to everyone who supported either financially by donating or emotionally messaging or calling us, or by supporting the campaign by simply sharing it.

To follow Matthew and Ali’s story and to see how you can help, click here for their Pozible page.

Social

Comments

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Ranggatang

Ranggatang said on the 19th Dec, 2013

Ali I remember seeing you around Brisbane a few years ago and thinking what a gorgeous man you were. You and Matthew are so lucky to have found each other. I can't believe the country that I am so proud of being born in sometimes. I can only wish the pair of you the very best, I hope it works out the right way in the end.

mark_

mark_ said on the 20th Dec, 2013

$15,000
$2,594

:eek:


That kind of money could have paid for a week of Craig Thomson's prostitites.

Or half of the late Julia Gillard's "slush fund'

mumofgay

mumofgay said on the 20th Dec, 2013

fingers crossed the migration review goes your way...

easonc

easonc said on the 20th Dec, 2013

I even can't be bothered to read the article. When these sad stories can be ended and when we can have more positive information?

Best wishes to you guys.

MrAsh

MrAsh said on the 20th Dec, 2013

I even can't be bothered to read the article. When these sad stories can be ended and when we can have more positive information?

Best wishes to you guys.

If you can't be bothered to read the article, why comment?

mark_

mark_ said on the 20th Dec, 2013



Why do we send Xmas Cards to people we haven't seen in a whole year?

Why do we say thank you to surly staff at MacDonalds?

Why do we comment on a picture in Hot Boys when we know that the picture has been photoshopped into a state of utter unreality?

http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110518020358AA45VOY

easonc

easonc said on the 21st Dec, 2013



Dear Mr Ash, I commented as I do care our people, as I do hope one day love really can save the world, as I do hope this lovely couple can stay together.

Given the ugly fact that nowadays not that manly people either straight or gay go for a life together for the sake of love, the true love in modern society is becoming more precious, let alone in the context of homosexual love being misled for ages, I think we the reality inside out.

Maybe you have more friends/families united purely by love, but here only few friends/families of mine can tell love gives them a life that they feel content.

easonc

easonc said on the 21st Dec, 2013

Why do we send Xmas Cards to people we haven't seen in a whole year?

Why do we say thank you to surly staff at MacDonalds?

Why do we comment on a picture in Hot Boys when we know that the picture has been photoshopped into a state of utter unreality?

http://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110518020358AA45VOY

Lol, Mr Mark, not really many photos in Hot Boys are photoshopped based on my professional knowledge. If feels unrealistically hot, we only are left to blame for stay-of-the-art technology of camera lol. Have seen few boys as hot as these in Hot boys' in real life. I was one of them lol.

MrAsh

MrAsh said on the 21st Dec, 2013

Dear Mr Ash, I commented as I do care our people, as I do hope one day love really can save the world, as I do hope this lovely couple can stay together.

Given the ugly fact that nowadays not that manly people either straight or gay go for a life together for the sake of love, the true love in modern society is becoming more precious, let alone in the context of homosexual love being misled for ages, I think we the reality inside out.

Maybe you have more friends/families united purely by love, but here only few friends/families of mine can tell love gives them a life that they feel content.

Romantic love isn't the crux of society, nor does it mean people who are not romantically attached are living empty, lonely and unfulfilling lives and nor does it mean that our society is barren of love, the problem with our society is that it is too fixated with romantic love and not other forms of love.

It's usually people like yourself, who are fixated with romantic idealism and notions that romantic love solves all the problems of the world, who are the loneliest and selfish of all.

easonc

easonc said on the 22nd Dec, 2013

Romantic love isn't the crux of society, nor does it mean people who are not romantically attached are living empty, lonely and unfulfilling lives and nor does it mean that our society is barren of love, the problem with our society is that it is too fixated with romantic love and not other forms of love.

It's usually people like yourself, who are fixated with romantic idealism and notions that romantic love solves all the problems of the world, who are the loneliest and selfish of all.

Hi Mr Ash, I never referred to romantic love anyway in my last post, nor did I mention the problem of society. I respect your opinion about how you comprehend love in modern society. In terms of your comment mocking me a romantic idealist who is, in essence, loneliest and selfish, what I can say is I am NOT that type of people as you described and I refuse your personal judgement.

MrAsh

MrAsh said on the 22nd Dec, 2013



If you read your comment again, it's clear you were referring to romantic love.

mark_

mark_ said on the 22nd Dec, 2013

Here is Act 2 of Ali's self-proclaimed 'great modern romance'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfM_XsQag0A

easonc

easonc said on the 22nd Dec, 2013



No, I wasn't. I personally like romantic love but that does not mean I am only up for the romance. I am childish but matured enough to see straight a life that I have been pursuig for.

Just think a little more encouragements always beat passive criticisms.

easonc

easonc said on the 22nd Dec, 2013

Here is Act 2 of Ali's self-proclaimed 'great modern romance'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfM_XsQag0A

What is your reason of following up their fight for life?

mark_

mark_ said on the 22nd Dec, 2013



Life?

I think these two people who came from other parts of the globe should be making a life-long /fully-funded /legally binding commitment to each other before asking Australia to make a life-long /fully-funded /legally-binding commitment to them.

easonc

easonc said on the 22nd Dec, 2013

Life?

I think these two people who came from other parts of the globe should be making a life-long /fully-funded /legally binding commitment to each other before asking Australia to make a life-long /fully-funded /legally-binding commitment to them.

I definitely get what you meant here, prior to this post, I had not read the article and my initial intention was to give a blessing to their life. In the meantime, I was also wishing such thing never happened over and over again so I made my first post like that. In essence, my posts were a bit of generalisation commenting on a not always easy life to gay people rather than presenting my thoughts about this article/their life particularly.

After your reply, I read the article twice. The thing is there have been not a few stakeholders in this case, so the controversies have arisen subsequently. I still only can give my best blessing to them in this festive season and hope everything will get better to them.

sortarius

sortarius said on the 23rd Dec, 2013

Only 4 years? De-facto relationships aren't legally recognised until much longer after and besides we're talking a gay couple here.. 6 years tops.

DavoJimbo

DavoJimbo said on the 24th Dec, 2013

We had absolutely no problems with the de-facto/immigration - then citizenship process, and did it without any professional assistance. It was fairly straight forward, and the rules and requirements were clearly stated. This should serve as a lesson for others to not become slack about insuring they follow the rules and that the onus is on them, not the government, to insure that they know and follow the rules and to be diligent. What probably could have been a fairly simple process looks like it has become an expensive, potential nightmare.
I hope they get it all sorted.

coast_boy_21

coast_boy_21 said on the 4th Jan, 2014

Following changes to immigration laws in 2008, same-sex couples have been able to access partnership visas for their de facto partners. In response to questions on the issue, the immigration ministers spokesperson noted that: same sex couples are assessed no differently from heterosexual couples regarding immigration matters. Yet, as Choudhry points out, this obscures one rather important fact: unlike heterosexual couples, same-sex couples do not have the ability to get married to simplify the burdensome bureaucratic process - thanks to Mr Bigot Tony Abbott. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/03/australias-convoluted-visa-laws-force-committed-gay-couples-apart

Marko

Marko said on the 4th Jan, 2014

Am I the only one that got lost while reading the article?

wysi

wysi said on the 5th Jan, 2014

They're just plain stupid for not doing the right thing. Stupid whingers who will only whinge whinge whinge while potentially getting Australian benefits.

coast_boy_21

coast_boy_21 said on the 5th Jan, 2014



So tell me, what exactly did they do wrong?

wysi

wysi said on the 5th Jan, 2014

They were not diligent with their paperwork. If they were, visa is approved. I know many SS couples who plan diligently their paperwork and stuff and easily got a visa.

wysi

wysi said on the 5th Jan, 2014

As someone who came here on a skilled visa it's not an easy task. I've been very diligent with my paperwork and I've been chasing people (not just waiting) to make it happen. Visa applications have strich requirements, you need the proper documentation and evrything. You don't just sit on your hands waiting for kingdom come.

wysi

wysi said on the 5th Jan, 2014



Me? I have no sympathy for people who don't do their homework. ;)

wysi

wysi said on the 8th Jan, 2014

This is a half story. The immigration system does not discriminate between same-sex and heterosexual de-facto relationships; if he did not get his visa it is because he did not meet the criteria or did not provide enough evidence of a genuine relationship (maybe they are in a genuine relationship but were not diligent in proving it, and I have no sympathy of people who lack diligence).

All couples have to do this, sexuality does not come into it and there should be no relaxation of the rules because he is gay or from Pakistan or has gone to the papers. If he is genuinely worried about persecution in Pakistan, then advertising his preferences across the global press is a strange choice.

He arrived on a student visa, reapplied for another but didn't study, overstayed illegally for four months, then put paperwork in for a partner visa. No wonder the immigration minister refused him.

observer

observer said on the 8th Jan, 2014

Well, i have to agree with Wyso on the actual work done by immi department. Do you know how many people get their visas refused simply because they chose wrong code from drop down menu when they were filling out their online application? A lot, i can tell you since i met quite a few.
PS.
Dealing with Immi Department is always a nightmare. Take it from someone who has done it and it was very unpleasant experience.

Mama Catastrophe

Mama Catastrophe said on the 8th Jan, 2014

Yeah Mamas with Wysi on this. While she sympathises with this couple she does fell they let themselves down with not being diligent enough with thier paperwork. You cant expect a government dept to chase you up and make sure that things are lodged on time or that addresses are correct. Mamas has done the partner Visa thing as well and she will admit you have to make sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed, but if you take care its quite a straightforward procedure

wysi

wysi said on the 8th Jan, 2014

The guy was an illegal overstayer, the immi officials flagged him and there's no doubt they are assessimg the risk he is using the partner visa route to avoid deportation. Without proper evidence of a genuine relationship he should be denied a visa. The rules should not be relaxed just because he is gay.