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

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Abstract

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.

Keywords

  • LGBTI
  • UNHCR
  • Consistency
  • Supervisory role

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Refugee status determination may also be conducted by UNHCR where states are unable or unwilling to do so. UNHCR Refugees do generally enjoy international protection in a limited way including the principle of non-penalization and non-refoulement while waiting for being resettled in a third country.

  2. 2.

    The Handbook and Guidelines on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refuge Status and in the Guidelines on International Protection (1992), Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2008), discussion note on the LGBTI Asylum-Seekers and Refugees (2010) and Guidelines on International Protection No.9 (2012).

  3. 3.

    There are also other challenges such as improving state reporting, institutionalizing a constructive dialogue with State parties and the measure of enforcement (Kälin 2003, p. 631).

  4. 4.

    The link of that database: http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?page=type&type=CASELAW.

  5. 5.

    Among them, India (5), Nigeria (5), Egypt (4) and Malaysia (3) constitute the majority.

  6. 6.

    Australia (14), UK (6), New Zealand (6), Canada (5), Ireland (3), South Africa (2), USA (1), Sweden (1), Poland (1) and Holland (1).

  7. 7.

    Refugee Appeal Board Decision (Tanzania), [2011].

  8. 8.

    Ireland (E. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors, [2011]) and South Africa (Refugee Appeal Board Decision (Tanzania), [2011]) have inconsistent interpretations of the enforcement requirements of the existing laws while New Zealand has inconsistent interpretations of stereotypes (Refugee Appeal No. 76484, [2010]) and the discretion approach (Refugee Appeal No. 76566, [2010]).

  9. 9.

    Refugee Appeal Board Decision (Tanzania), [2011].

  10. 10.

    Please see Art.3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art.6 and 9 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Art.33(1) of Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

  11. 11.

    Sudan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mauritania, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

  12. 12.

    BQ (China), [2015]; Refugee Appeal Board Decision (Tanzania), [2011]; MD India CG v. Secretary for the Home Department, [2014] and RRT Case No. 1108582, [2012].

  13. 13.

    Private Proceeding X, [2011].

  14. 14.

    Guerrero v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [2011].

  15. 15.

    X.v. The Head of the Office for Foreigners, [2012].

  16. 16.

    Refugee Appeal Board Decision (Tanzania), [2011] and E. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors, [2011].

  17. 17.

    For the priority of objective element, see Hathaway (2005), pp. 492–503 and Zimmermann and Mahler (2011), pp. 281–467. For the importance of both objective and subjective element, see Fragaman (1970), pp. 45–69.

  18. 18.

    X. v. The Head of the Office for Foreigners, [2012].

  19. 19.

    Applicant v. Minister for Security and Justice, [2013]; E.P.A v. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal, [2013] and Francis Ojo Ogunrinde v. Canada, [2012].

  20. 20.

    The decision on the existence of general credibility is taken by the examiner only when the applicant’s statements are coherent and plausible and do not counter to generally known facts (UNHCR 1992, para.204).

  21. 21.

    AD (Egypt), [2011].

  22. 22.

    RRT Case No. 1003995, [2010] and RRT Case No. 0905785, [2010].

  23. 23.

    RRT Case No. 1217632, [2013]; RRT Case No. 1109183, [2012]; RRT Case No. 1108582, [2012]; SZQAM v. Minister for Immigration, [2011]; Refugee Appeal No. 76566, [2010]; RRT Case No. 1004169, [2010]; RRT Case No. 1000978, [2010]; Minister for Immigration and Citizenship v. SZMDS, [2010]; Refugee Appeal No. 76414, [2010]; Refugee Appeal No. 76484, [2010]; X, Re, VB3-02152, [2014]; X v. Canada, [2014] and OO (Gay Men) Algeria CG v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2016].

  24. 24.

    A case can be identified as relevant for this part only meeting the following criteria: the applicant shall add another ground for asylum and/or make changes in his/her testimony.

  25. 25.

    MD (same-sex oriented males: risk) India CG v. Secretary for the Home Department, [2014]; AR and NH (lesbians) India v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2016]; RRT Case No. 1102720, [2011] and E. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal & Ors, [2011].

  26. 26.

    Private Proceeding X, [2011].

  27. 27.

    RRT Case No. 1213081, [2014]; RRT Case No. 1102251, [2011]; RRT Case No. 1003995, [2010] and RRT Case No. 0905785, [2010].

  28. 28.

    M.E. v. Sweden, [2015]; AE (Egypt), [2012]; AD (Egypt), [2012] and SW Jamaica v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2011].

  29. 29.

    E.P.A v. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal, [2013]; M.A. v. Minister for Justice and Law Reform, [2010]; Applicant v. Minister for Security and Justice, [2013]; RRT Case No. 1207970, [2012]; RRT Case No. 1102877, [2012]; RRT Case No. 1102251, [2011] and RRT Case No. 0905785, [2010].

  30. 30.

    HL (Malaysia) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2012]; OO (Gay Men) Algeria CG v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2016] and LH and IP (gay men: risk) Sri Lanka CG v. The Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2015].

  31. 31.

    AE (Egypt), [2012]; AD (Egypt), [2012].

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Güler, A. (2019). Refugee Status Determination Process for LGBTI Asylum Seekers: (In)Consistencies of States’ Implementations with UNHCR’s Authoritative Guidance. In: Güler, A., Shevtsova, M., Venturi, D. (eds) LGBTI Asylum Seekers and Refugees from a Legal and Political Perspective. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91905-8_7

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