Refugee Status Determination Process for LGBTI Asylum Seekers: (In)Consistencies of States’ Implementations with UNHCR’s Authoritative Guidance

  • Arzu GülerEmail author


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been given the duty of supervising the application of international refugee instruments to ensure that states implement them uniformly serving the best interests of asylum seekers and refugees. As part of its supervisory role, UNHCR provides guidance on how to interpret the Refugee Convention and how to conduct the refugee status determination process. Thus, the consistency of states’ interpretation and application of the refugee definition with UNHCR’s authoritative guidance means providing refugee status to people who fulfil the definition of refugee. This chapter focuses on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in need of protection. It identifies persecution, credibility, internal flight alternative and concealment approach as decisive areas for granting or rejecting the asylum applications of LGBTI people and explores the (in)consistencies of states’ interpretation and application of these areas with the UNHCR’s guidelines on international protection, assuming that any inconsistency would mean the need for an enhanced supervisory role. The chapter questions, then, in which area(s) there is a need of enhancing the UNHCR’s supervisory role in the legal process of refugee status determination for LGBTI asylum seekers. By analysing a randomly selected 40 case research sample, the chapter preliminary identifies four inconsistencies and concludes that the UNHCR’s supervisory role needs to be enhanced in three areas: namely persecution (the enforcement requirement of the existing laws), credibility (stereotypes) and the concealment approach.


LGBTI UNHCR Consistency Supervisory role 


  1. Arakaki, O. (2013). Non-state actors and UNHCR’s supervisory role in international relations. In J. C. Simeon (Ed.), The UNHCR and the supervision of international refugee law (pp. 286–301). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carroll, A., & Mendos, L. R. (2017). State Sponsored Homophobia 2017: A world survey of sexual orientation laws: criminalisation, protection and recognition. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.Google Scholar
  3. D’epifanio, M. (2011). Credibility issues of LGBTI Asylum-Seekers in the refugee status determination. Master thesis, Istanbul Bilgi University.Google Scholar
  4. Fragaman, A. (1970). The refugee: A problem of definition. Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, 3(1), 45–69.Google Scholar
  5. Goodwin-Gill, G. S., & McAdam, J. (2007). The refugee in international law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hathaway, J. C. (2005). Michigan guidelines on well-founded fear. Michigan Journal of International Law, 26(2), 492–503.Google Scholar
  7. Kälin, W. (2003). Supervising the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees: Article 35 and beyond. In E. Feller, V. Türk, & F. Nicholson (Eds.), Refugee protection in international law: UNHCR’s global consultations on international protection (pp. 613–666). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Nen, E. N., & Nykänen, E. (2012). Fragmented state power and forced migration: A study on non-state actors in refugee law. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar
  9. Pobjoy, J. (2013). A child rights framework for assessing the status of refugee children. In S. S. Juss & C. Harvey (Eds.), Contemporary issues in refugee law (pp. 91–138). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Pollini, F. E. (2014). The difficult path towards the recognition of refugee status based on sexual orientation and gender identity analysing Brazil and the United Kingdom. ICL Journal. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from
  11. Türk, V. (2002). UNHCR’s supervisory responsibility. New Issues in Refugee Research (Working Paper No. 67).Google Scholar
  12. Türk, V. (2013). Ensuring protection to LGBTI persons of concern. Forced Migration Review, 42, 5–8.Google Scholar
  13. United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. (2015). Discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Geneva: Author.Google Scholar
  14. UN General Assembly. (1950). Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.Google Scholar
  15. UNHCR. (1992). Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.Google Scholar
  16. UNHCR. (2008). UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.Google Scholar
  17. UNHCR. (2010). The Protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Asylum-Seekers and Refugees.Google Scholar
  18. UNHCR. (2012). Guidelines on International Protection No.9: Claims to Refugee Status based on Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity within the context of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.Google Scholar
  19. Weßels, J. (2011). Sexual orientation in refugee status determination (Working Paper Series No. 74). Refugee Studies Centre.Google Scholar
  20. Zimmermann, A., & Mahler, C. (2011). Article 1A, Paragraph 2. In A. Zimmermann, J. Dörschner, & F. Machts (Eds.), The 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees and its 1967 protocol. A commentary (pp. 281–467). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Case Law

  1. AD (Egypt), NZIPT 800177 (2011).Google Scholar
  2. AE (Egypt), NZIPT 800226 (2012).Google Scholar
  3. Applicant v. Minister for Security and Justice, 201012342/V2 (2013).Google Scholar
  4. AR and NH (lesbians) India v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, UKUT 00066 (2016).Google Scholar
  5. BQ (China), NZIPT 800826 (2015).Google Scholar
  6. E.P.A v. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal, IEHC 85 (2013).Google Scholar
  7. Esnat Maureen Makumba v. The Minister of Home Affairs and others (2014).Google Scholar
  8. E. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors, IEHC 149 (2011).Google Scholar
  9. Francis Ojo Ogunrinde v. Canada, FC 760 (2012).Google Scholar
  10. Guerrero v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), FC 860 (2011).Google Scholar
  11. HL (Malaysia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, EWCA Civ 834 (2012).Google Scholar
  12. LH and IP (gay men: risk) Sri Lanka CG v. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, UKUT 00073 (2015).Google Scholar
  13. M.A. v. Minister for Justice and Law Reform, and others, IEHC 519 (2010).Google Scholar
  14. MD (same-sex oriented males: risk) India CG v. Secretary for the Home Department, UKUT 00065 (2014).Google Scholar
  15. M.E. v. Sweden (Grand Chamber), Application no. 71398/12, (2015).Google Scholar
  16. Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v. SZMDS, HCA 16 (2010).Google Scholar
  17. OO (Gay Men) Algeria CG v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, UKUT 00065 (2016).Google Scholar
  18. Private Proceeding X, MA8-04150 (2011).Google Scholar
  19. Refugee Appeal Board Decision (Tanzania) (2011).Google Scholar
  20. Refugee Appeal No. 76414, No. 76414 (2010).Google Scholar
  21. Refugee Appeal No. 76484, No. 76484 (2010).Google Scholar
  22. Refugee Appeal No. 76566, No. 76566 (2010).Google Scholar
  23. RRT Case No. 0905785, RRTA 150 (2010).Google Scholar
  24. RRT Case No. 1000978, RRTA 493 (2010).Google Scholar
  25. RRT Case No. 1003995, RRTA 580 (2010).Google Scholar
  26. RRT Case No. 1004169, RRTA 723 (2010).Google Scholar
  27. RRT Case No. 1102251, RRTA 390 (2011).Google Scholar
  28. RRT Case No. 1102720, RRTA 714 (2011).Google Scholar
  29. RRT Case No. 1102877, RRTA 101 (2012).Google Scholar
  30. RRT Case No. 1108582, RRTA 247 (2012).Google Scholar
  31. RRT Case No. 1109183, RRTA 567 (2012).Google Scholar
  32. RRT Case No. 1207970, RRTA 757 (2012).Google Scholar
  33. RRT Case No. 1217632, RRTA 870 (2013).Google Scholar
  34. RRT Case No. 1213081, RRTA 75 (2014).Google Scholar
  35. SW (lesbians - HJ and HT applied) Jamaica v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, CG, UKUT 00251 (2011).Google Scholar
  36. SZQAM v. Minister for Immigration & Anor, FMCA 624 (2011).Google Scholar
  37. Todorovic v. U.S. Attorney General, No. 09-11652 (2010).Google Scholar
  38. X, Re, VB3-02152 (2014).Google Scholar
  39. X v. Canada, MB3-04233 (2014).Google Scholar
  40. X. v. The Head of the Office for Foreigners (unofficial English translation of the Polish original) (2012).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International RelationsAydın Adnan Menderes UniversityIsabeyli, Nazili/AydinTurkey

Personalised recommendations