Lesbian who told authorities she received death threats is refused refugee status

The woman had shared her own family in Zimbabwe had threatened her life but she was refused asylum by the IPO.

A judge's gavel

A woman who was refused refugee status in 2019 despite telling authorities her family in Zimbabwe had threatened her life when they discovered she was a lesbian, has now lost her appeal to remain in Ireland.

In the original proceedings, an International Protection Officer rejected her claim of being forced into marriage twice as a child, at age 9 and 13, and that family members had threatened her due to her sexuality. The woman had then brought judicial review proceedings to overturn the IPO decision, but it was turned over on Friday by Justice Tara Burns.

The IPO argued that they didn’t believe the woman’s claim as she failed to answer certain questions to their satisfaction in regards to her sexuality and was not aware of any LGBTQ+ support groups in Ireland and had not engaged with any in Zimbabwe. Based on those responses, as well as other information about the woman, the IPO recommended she should not be granted asylum. In her ruling, Justice Burns said the IPO had reached their determination in regards to whether the woman was a lesbian.

Activist Bulelani Mfaco spokesperson for MASI – Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland – shared the statement on social media “The Department of Justice assumes to have the authority to validate an asylum seeker’s sexual orientation. Nowhere in Irish law or practice would the State treat its LGBTQ+ citizens like LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.”

“The Irish government doesn’t have the authority to validate a person’s sexual orientation,” Mfaco said in a statement to Pink News.“It’s a serious disregard of the person’s fundamental human right to privacy to try. It is disgraceful that this practice continues.”

Justice Burns stated that the decision can be reconsidered at the woman’s appeal before the International Protection Appeals Tribunal.

There have been many reported cases across Europe where a gay or lesbian refugee was refused asylum based on their sexuality when they did not fit ideas or “stereotypes” of what an LGBTQ+ person should be.

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