Hungary, December 01, 2011

“Fleeing Homophobia. Seeking Safety in Europe”

Each year hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) asylum seekers arrive to member states of the EU. European countries regularly reject the asylum applications of LGBTI asylum applicants on the basis of prejudices and stereotypes.

The report is written by the researchers of COC Netherlands (the oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in the world) and VU University Amsterdam in the framework of the project where the Hungarian Helsinki Committee took the advisory role. The researchers in cooperation with 27 European country experts investigated during the past year how European Union Member States deal with asylum applications by LGBTI applicants who fear persecution on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity in their country of origin. The project was made possible by support of the European Commission.

One of the conclusions of the research is that EU Member States regularly reject asylum applications on the basis of prejudices and stereotypes. One example is that asylum seekers are not believed in their assertion of being homosexual if they do not behave in a caricatured feminine manner, or if a woman is not aware which penalty is imposed on lesbian sex in her country, or if asylum applicants do not participate in the lesbian or gay scene in the country of refuge. “The credibility of asylum applicants should not be assessed by relying on stereotypes”, the researchers say.

Many European countries expect asylum applicants to actively conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity in the country of origin in order to prevent homophobic or transphobic violence. In this way, Europe forces LGBTI individuals to keep hiding. “By doing this, European countries support homophobia and transphobia; asylum applicants should not be sent back into the closet”, the research concludes.

Moreover, not enough recognition is given to the fact that in many countries homosexuality is still a criminal offence. In these cases, “LGBTI asylum applicants from such countries should in principle be granted asylum”, according to the researchers.

It is problem in Hungary as well that adjudicators are influenced by stereotypes and they try to assess the sexual orientation of asylum seekers by medical examinations however it is not a medical question at all – says Gábor Gyulai expert of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee taking part in the research.

The research report was presented at a conference in Amsterdam this year, experts from Central Eastern Europe participated in a seminar organized in the end of November in Warsaw in order to discuss the report’s findings or the and regional specificities.

The project was funded by the European Union. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee was a partner organization in the project.

The research report is available here.

 

Source: http://helsinki.hu

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