Irish High Court overrules denial of refugee status to man pretending to be gay

The case of the applicant who pretended to be gay to obtain refugee status is now remitted back to the tribunal for further consideration.

A photo of the High Court in Dublin, which overruled a decision about a man seeking refugee status who pretended to be gay.
Image: Via Twitter - @NOYBeu

On Tuesday, July 26, the High Court rejected a tribunal finding that denied refugee status to a Georgian man who initially pretended to be gay in order to obtain international protection in Ireland. The new ruling established that the case should undergo further consideration.

The Georgian applicant had put forward a first claim for refugee status in Ireland saying that he was gay and feared for his life in his home country due to his sexual orientation. Shortly before his appeal hearing by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT), the man came clean about his sexual orientation, declaring that what he previously claimed about his sexual orientation was false and that he had never been in a relationship with another man.

The applicant explained that he had fabricated those lies after another Georgian national had advised him to do so, suggesting that he would encounter difficulties in securing international protection if he told the truth. This matter is problematic, as gay, lesbian or bisexual people seeking international protection are often denied refugee status even when they are telling the truth.

Later, the Georgian applicant put forward a new claim stating that he was seeking international protection because back in his home country he was the target of people who had lent him money that he was not able to repay. The International Protection Office (IPO) did not accept his claim and the IPAT affirmed this decision, commenting that the “massive inconsistency in the nature of the claim presented by the appellant utterly deprives his claim of credibility”.

The man then appealed this decision to the High Court, which quashed the finding that he should not be granted refugee status. In the new ruling, Ms Justice Marguerite Bolger stated that IPAT failed to properly assess the man’s second claim, saying that the tribunal should have taken into account evidence about the man’s concern about being targeted by the people to whom he owed money back in his home country.

Instead, according to her ruling, IPAT had excluded any adequate assessment of the new claim and instead favoured an “almost exclusive focus” on the fact that the man had previously lied about being gay in its decision to deny him refugee status.

Thanks to this decision by the High Court, the matter is now remitted back to IPAT for further consideration.

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