One in three LGBT+ people seeking asylum are turned away in the UK, Italy and Germany because officials did not believe their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, according to a recent research study.
A research team spoke with 82 LGBT+ people seeking asylum and 157 supporters as part of the University of Sussex’s SOGICA (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum) project. According to the study’s findings, more than half of the claimants who took part detailed experiences with “physical or mental health problems” due to “the persecution they experienced or the process of claiming asylum.”
40% of respondents spoke about officials who did not believe they were persecuted or at risk of persecution due to their sexuality and/or gender identity in their country of origin. During the asylum seeking process in the UK, Italy and Germany, almost half of the claimants did not have a legal representative to help with their application.
More than a third of the respondents felt that their story went unheard during the process and the interviewer did not ask the right questions. Furthermore, only one third felt their appeal presented them a fair opportunity to state their case.
Speaking with The Guardian, lead researcher of the project Moria Dustin stated, “These are people who are fleeing their home country not out of choice, but out of necessity. If they could speak with one voice, I believe they would say ‘I am who I say I am.’ Not being believed is their top concern.”
Please find the recommendations from our research on our website. https://t.co/XcnPuOCiw8
Please share, use them in your work…disseminate them and share with us. Most importantly we hope you use them to support #LGBTQI/#SOGI asylum seekers and refugees. pic.twitter.com/VxQN3ue8oZ
— SOGICA (@SOGICA1) July 9, 2020
Dustin further details how the burden of proof has been unfairly placed upon the shoulders of queer people seeking aslyum in disregard to international refugee laws stating there should be equal responsibility between claimant and decision-maker. She said, “For many, it’s a question of ‘you must convince me.'”
In Ireland, LGBT+ activists have been speaking out against the inhumane system of Direct Provision. Activist Evgeny Shtorn has previously written a powerful piece addressing the barriers facing queer people seeking asylum, such as language and trans healthcare. He writes, “Why have we constructed the reality where all aspects of one’s identity become an issue, a difficulty, a struggle?”
Shtorn further said, “Now it’s time to stand up for the rights of every person on earth to seek to be free and alive, to live in dignity and respect and enjoy her or his or their human rights!”
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