The EU offers refuge to those fleeing homophobia

by Luca Lauro - 2013.07.30
The EU offers refuge to those fleeing homophobia
  • Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Whatsapp
  • Print

Gay people who are criminalized in their own countries because of their sexual orientation can be granted refugee status in the European Union.

This is according to the conclusions of the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Eleanor Sharpston, in the case of three citizens from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal. Each country metes out severe punishment for homosexuality, including life imprisonment.

Under Directive 2004/83/EC, which refers to the provisions of the Geneva Convention, a citizen of a third country may apply for refugee status if they have a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, and if they are outside their country of nationality and cannot or, for fear of persecution, do not want to seek that country’s protection.

In the case in question, the Council of State of the Netherlands, where the three had applied, asked the Court whether gay citizens constitute a "particular social group". The judge's response was affirmative. In her view, "the wording of the Directive shows that the EU legislature has indicated that people who share a characteristic of sexual orientation do count as being members of a particular social group."

Eleanor Sharpston clarified that "the criminalization of homosexual activity does not in itself constitute an act of persecution within the meaning of the Directive." It is up to the relevant national authorities to assess whether it is probable that a particular asylum applicant has been subjected to sufficiently serious measures, in terms of their nature or frequency, to constitute a violation of human rights. It is not enough that homosexuality is considered a crime in the country of origin: there must also be evidence of persecution.

The case sets a precedent for asylum seekers in Europe who cite sexual harassment as their main motive for seeking asylum. The 2012 report Fleeing Homophobia estimated there to be about 10,000 refugees escaping persecution because of their sexuality.

According to Amnesty International, homosexuality is illegal in 78 countries around the world, while in seven of them (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen and parts of Nigeria and Somalia) it is punishable by death. People from the LGBT community face human rights violations, assault, intimidation and discrimination in more than 40 countries including: Albania, Bahamas, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Croatia, Denmark, Fiji, Georgia, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Taiwan, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Hungary, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

  • Dream Daddy, videogame about gay Dads circulating the web

    Throughout the world Dream Daddy, the videogame about gay Dads in search of love, is enjoying a huge success. Developed by the noted youtube clan, Game Grumps, the game launched on July 20th, is an appointment simulator that introduces widow, Brian, who moves with his adolescent daughter to the city Read More.

  • Muslims and gay Americans unite against Trump

    According to the Pew Research Center, Muslims are more tolerant of gays and diverse sexual orientation than evangelical Christians. At least, in the USA. Where 52% of the first group, against 34% of the second, declare that the lgbt community should be protected, accepted, and respected by all members of Read More.

  • An animated movie about love between two gay adolescents

    For the first time, an animated short film tells about love between two gay teenagers. The film, named In a heartbeat, has been made by two American students, Beth Davis and Esteban Bravo, tells the story of Sherwin, an awkward, young teen, whose heart literally pops out of his chest Read More.

  • Blood donation rules relaxed for UK gay men

    Blood donation restrictions for gay men are to be relaxed in England and Scotland under a series of equalities reforms. Gay men will be allowed to donate blood three months after sexual intercourse instead of a year. Advances in testing for blood-borne viruses, including hepatitis B and C and HIV, Read More.

  • Trump bans transgender people from serving in US military

    Donald Trump has effectively banned transgender people from serving in the US military. In a series of tweets, US President said: "After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in Read More.

  • Traumas of unnecessary surgeries on intersex children

    Many doctors around the world continue to perform medically unnecessary surgeries that can inflict permanent harm on intersex children, Human Rights Watch and interACT said in a report. The 160-page report, "I Want to Be Like Nature Made Me": Medically Unnecessary Surgeries on Intersex Children in the US, provides extensive Read More.