In a decisive move, the French parliament voted near unanimously to pass an amendment which would protect LGBT asylum seekers from being deported to a country of origin which officials beleve would persecute them for their sexuality.
France has an official list of ‘safe countries of origin’, meaning they do not believe the asylum seeker would face harm if deported back to their home country. This new amendment sought to remove countries from that list where the sexuality of the asylum seeker would be the ‘target of mistreatment or criminal penalties’.
Countries such as Ghana, Senegal and India would now fall under the unsafe category. This would mean changes to the current model where asylum seekers could be deported as part of a fast track system even after appealing. Now, however, LGBT migrants who come from these unsafe countries could indeed appeal to the National Court for the Right to Asylum if their original request is rejected citing danger to themselves due to their sexuality.
Republic On The Move, the party led by current French president Emmanuel Macron, were responsible for introducing the amendment. It was then passed by the French parliament.
MP Matthieu Orphelin, one the people involved in the amendment stated, “Today, there are asylum seekers who come to our country because they have been persecuted for their sexual orientation.” He continued, “It was indispensable to change the definition of a safe country and to reiterate that there are only a handful of countries in the world where LGBT people are respected.”
It was pointed out by critics that even though this was a positive move forward for the rights of LGBT asylum seekers, there was still an assumption that just because a country was not on the unsafe list, asylum seekers would not face persecution if forced to return.
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