Tag Archives: Canada

Citations | LGBTQ+ Asylum-seekers

Citations
Asylum Claims and the Adjudication of Sexual Identity

In immigration systems around the world, credibility stands as the primary burden of proof and identity indicator for sexual and gender minorities fleeing persecution in their countries of origin. In determining who assesses credibility and how, however, precision has long eluded researchers, lawmakers, and adjudicators as fluidity and multiplicity in identity has come to define sexual- and gender-minority communities. The reliance on expert assessments and interviewer perceptions in legal and administrative decisions has proven problematic from both a scientific and human rights perspective. Testing often involves a combination of physiological and psychological measurement, from arousal responses to personality assessments, and interviews have been based on a range of cultural biases and unrealistic expectations.

Immigration laws across nations have variously granted or denied asylum based on behavior, identity, affiliation, or perception, and the lack of standardization has created a large degree of uncertainty for LGBT individuals fleeing unsafe conditions in their countries of origin. This Citations installment outlines the patchwork of domestic and international laws and guidelines framing the consideration of asylum claims by sexual and gender minorities in popular destination countries, region- and country-specific legal and administrative processes, and recent trends in the assessment of sexual and gender identity and asylum claims.


Global

The U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention) established guidelines determining the status of an individual as a refugee, defined as “someone who is unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion.” The “membership of a particular social group” item has become the cornerstone of the expansion of asylum rights to LGBT individuals fleeing persecution, and international organizations have undertaken efforts to outline frameworks for ascertaining such membership.

European Union

In a victory for LGBT asylum-seekers in Europe, the E.U. Court of Justice recently ruled against Hungarian immigration officials’ decision to deny a gay Nigerian’s asylum claim as the result of a sexuality assessment test. In its ruling, the ECJ determined that while such psychological assessments are not prohibited, the results cannot factor into asylum decisions when testing methodology contravenes any of the human rights outlined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The decision comes as the culmination of a series of rulings related to the assessment of sexual identity in asylum decisions in member states amid historic levels of trans-Mediterranean migration.

United States

Since 1994, the U.S. has recognized sexual identity as grounds for granting asylum in the country. The political and legal recognition of LGBT asylum-seekers has co-evolved with that of LGBT citizens, with asylum decision-making processes having liberalized alongside greater scientific research into sexual orientation and expanding legal rights and protections for LGBT citizens. Today, LGBT asylum-seekers submit an application that includes documentation corroborating both individual circumstances as well as the conditions LGBT individuals face in their country of origin and are then selected to participate in an interview with the Department of Homeland Security. With no government data kept regarding the outcome of claims based on sexual orientation, however, transparency and accountability have emerged as central issues for advocates and watchdogs seeking to promote security and rigor in adjudication.

Australia

While Australia has recognized sexual orientation as part of the 1951 Convention’s designation of “membership of a particular social group,” the country has faced significant criticism for its asylum process for LGBT petitioners, which has included low approval rates and offshore detention that has further imperiled asylum-seekers. When asylum-seekers have gone before the Refugee and Migration Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in a final attempt to secure asylum, they have faced arbitrary, invasive, stereotypical, and culturally ignorant lines of questioning and expectations by interviewers and offered private photos and texts by asylum-seekers in desperation to “confirm” their sexual identity.

Canada

As immigration and refugee acceptance have become political hot topics in Europe, the U.S., and Australia, Canada has sought to position itself as a beacon of acceptance for individuals fleeing to the Global North to escape war or persecution. LGBT individuals petitioning for asylum enjoy higher-than-average approval rates in the country, but advocates have noted that Canada’s adjudication process has historically suffered from the same cultural biases and pitfalls in credibility assessment as other popular destination countries. Tight claim deadlines and multiple points of inquiry introduce further precarity in the process, but advocates are hopeful that a new set of guidelines issued in 2017 will improve the adjudication process. 

South Africa

A popular destination for LGBT Africans seeking refuge outside of their countries of origin, South Africa positioned itself as an early global leader in the establishment of LGBT legal rights and protections. Though the most progressive African nation in this respect, the country has nevertheless been criticized for the legal process through which it puts LGBT asylum-seekers, including reliance on temporary permits to defer long-term status provision and intimidation and credibility issues in the interview process.

 

Australia & Canada Feature | Indigenous

The Fight for Indigenous Equality, from Australia to Canada

As increased attention to negative outcomes in indigenous communities has pushed their governments to address racial disparities, Australian and Canadian indigenous advocates have drawn attention to the markedly similar ways in which English settler colonialism and systemic racial inequality unfolded in their countries. In both countries, indigenous peoples make up at least a quarter of the prison population, 40% of incarcerated children, and half of those in the child welfare system. Similar policies of forced family dissolution, detention, and delayed dismantlement of legal inequality have pushed advocates an ocean apart to come up with comparative solutions to the persistent indigenous/non-indigenous gap in their countries.

Read

‘It’s the same story’: How Australia and Canada are twinning on bad outcomes for Indigenous people” (The Guardian | April 2017)

(Image Credit: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

Canada News | Asylum-Seekers

Spike in irregular border crossings into Canada comes as asylum-seekers bypass unfriendly U.S.
  • Asylum-seekers from countries like Ghana, Somalia, and Djibouti have endured subzero winter conditions in an attempt to cross the U.S.-Canada border, with 2017 set to outpace the last few years in irregular crossings.
  • The Canadian government has made it a point to distinguish itself from its southern neighbor, welcoming refugees officially and overseeing a popular refugee sponsorship program.
  • Many asylum-seekers have avoided official border crossing ports because of a “safe country” agreement between Canada and the U.S. that denies entry to refugees traveling from the U.S., now complicated by the Trump administration’s active refugee ban.
Read

Why So Many Refugees Are Risking Their Lives To Cross The Border Into Canada” (BuzzFeed News | February 2017)

Canada PM Trudeau pressured to tackle influx of asylum seekers over US border” (The Guardian | February 2017)

New numbers show spike in asylum seekers crossing from U.S. to Manitoba” (CBC News | January 2017)

(Image Credit: Lyle Stafford/Reuters, via The Guardian)

Global Event | Women’s Marches

Global Women’s Marches

On the day following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, millions gathered in demonstrations taking place across all seven continents in support of women’s rights. Trump, who was elected despite having been accused of sexual assault by at least two dozen women, ran a campaign that attacked reproductive rights, disparaged high-profile women (including his opponent, Hillary Clinton), and equivocated on issues like gender pay equity, and of the 25 members of his incoming senior leadership team, only three are women. From Austin to Antarctica, women and allies around the world mobilized around issues including women’s security, reproductive rights, racial and immigration justice, climate change, and LGBTQ rights.

Global Overview
The Americas


Source: The New York Times (YouTube)

Europe & Africa


Source: ODN (YouTube)

Asia Pacific & Antarctica


Source: Reuters (YouTube)

Global Events: Black Lives Matter Protests

Black Lives Matter Globally

As a series of controversial shootings of African-American men by police has renewed attention to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., people around the world have stood in solidarity with black Americans seeking to root out racial profiling, excessive use of force, and lack of accountability in U.S. law enforcement. For some, the demonstrations have been defined mostly by a kind of international allyism, but in many parts of the world, the American movement has prompted reflection on the treatment of local black communities—native, historical, and immigrant—by law enforcement, politicians, and broader society. Here is a look at the global demonstrations and solidarity movements in the name of Black Lives Matter: Continue reading Global Events: Black Lives Matter Protests

Canada Feature | Syrian Refugees

Refuge in the Great White North

While a resurgence in xenophobic nationalism has hampered humanitarian efforts in countries like the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and South Korea, provisions in Canada’s immigration law allowing for the private sponsorship of refugees has made the country a bright spot in the global refugee crisis. The program has opened up opportunities where few would exist otherwise, and though concerns over the potential for paternalism have given some refugee advocates pause, Canadians’ historical willingness to open their wallets, homes, and neighborhoods to refugees has long given new arrivals a reason to believe in Canada’s welcoming reputation. Amidst the culturally and politically sensitive terrain of traumatic memories, privacy issues, language barriers, and financial struggle, The New York Times profiles some of the Canadians, new and old, participating in the country’s private sponsorship program.

Read more:
Refugees Encounter a Foreign Word: Welcome” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Iran News | Dual Citizens

Canadian-Iranian arrested in Iran as detentions of dual citizens continue
  • Homa Hoodfar, an anthropology professor at Concordia University in Montreal, was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran.
  • Her family indicated that she had been detained and transferred to Iran’s notorious Evin prison on unspecified charges following extended interrogation.
  • Iran, which doesn’t recognize dual citizenship, has imprisoned a growing number of dual nationals traveling from abroad in recent years under allegations of espionage and foreign collaboration.

Read more:
Canadian-Iranian professor arrested in Tehran by Revolutionary Guards” (The Guardian)
Arrest of Homa Hoodfar in Iran Shines Light on Dangers for Dual Citizens” (The New York Times)
Concordia University prof jailed in Iran’s Evin prison, family says” (CBC News)

(Image Credit: Amanda Ghahremani/Associated Press, via The New York Times)