UNHCR publishes its Guidelines for claims to refugee status based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity

Date: 
Friday, October 4, 2013

Recognizing that in many parts of the world, individuals experience serious human rights abuses and other forms of persecution due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/ or gender identity, UNHCR published this week its Guidelines for claims to Refugee Status based on Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity. The Guidelines seek to provide substantive and procedural guidance on the determination of refugee status of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, with a view to ensuring a proper and harmonized interpretation of the refugee definition in the 1951 Convention.

The Guidelines encompass comprehensive analysis of the issues surrounding sexual orientation/gender identity claims, including the concepts of well-founded fear of persecution, laws criminalizing same sex relations, concealment of sexual orientation/gender identity, as well as their implications on the claim. The Guidelines further entail detailed definitions of the notions of “sexual orientation”, “gender identity”, “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual”, “transgender” and “intersex” but underline that not all applicants will self-identify with such terminology or may be unaware of it. Refugee claims based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, according to the Guidelines, are most commonly recognized under the “membership of a particular social group” ground of the 1951 Convention but other grounds may apply depending on the political, religious and cultural context of the claim.  Importantly, the Guidelines also approach the issue of credibility, highlighting that the credibility assessment of the applicant’s claims should be conducted in an individualized and sensitive way.


This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.

                                                     

 

Keywords: 
Sexual orientation
Tags: 
UNHCR
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