Tag Archives: Interregional/Global

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.

 

Global Feature | Atheists & Secularists

The Global Effort to Rescue Persecuted Atheists


Source: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science/YouTube (September 2016)

With more than a dozen countries criminalizing atheistic expression and anti-atheist sentiment widespread even in purportedly secular countries, organizations have popped up around the globe to rescue persecuted atheists, lobby for civil rights, and promote community and security for atheists, agnostics, and other freethinkers. Secular Rescue was launched by the Center for Inquiry in 2016 in response to the recent spate of murders of secularist Bangladeshi writers and intellectuals, and its efforts have drawn attention to the plight of freethinkers living in the Global South in need of asylum. The Atlantic recently profiled the organization as well as the conditions contributing to the greater visibility of atheists in regions conventionally assumed to be inhospitable to the growth of secularism and freethought.

Read

The ‘Underground Railroad’ To Save Atheists” (The Atlantic | January 2018)

Center for Inquiry Launches ‘Secular Rescue’ to Save Lives of Threatened Activists” (The Center for Inquiry | September 2016)

Connect

Secular Rescue

Atheist Asylum Program

 

Interregional News | Migrants & Asylum-Seekers

Italy rescues almost 2,500 asylum-seekers in Mediterranean over three days as trips and deaths surge
  • The Italian Coast Guard pulled 1,100 from nine vessels in one day following the rescue of 1,360 in the previous two days as migrant deaths are up by more than 330% over 2016.
  • More than 10,700 have crossed the Mediterranean in the first months of 2017, an increase of a third over 2016.
  • Recently, Italy and the U.N. agreed to fund migrant camps, Coast Guard training, and anti-smuggling efforts in Libya to stem the flow of migrants into southern Europe, a move criticized by humanitarian groups because of Libya’s political insecurity and harsh treatment of migrants.
Read

Italy says 2,500 boat migrants rescued at sea in three days” (Reuters | February 2017)
Migrant Fatalities Surge on Libya-Italy Mediterranean Route” (Voice of America | February 2017)
Can E.U. Shift Migrant Crisis to the Source? In Libya, the Odds Are Long” (The New York Times | February 2017)

(Image Credit: Reuters, via Voice of America)

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 Event | Christmas

Christmas for the Vulnerable Christians of the World


Source: Al Jazeera YouTube

One of the most important days in the Christian holiday canon, Christmas is celebrated by the devout, the lapsed, and the unbelieving alike as a time of gift-giving, decorating, and shared cheer. However, many of the worlds Christians, minorities in their communities, continue to face persecution as religious-extremist, nationalist, and other reactionary forces gain footholds around the world. From Indonesia to Egypt, religiously diverse societies have experienced increased sectarian tensions as parallel forces—anti-Christian sentiment and Islamophobia—have disrupted what was once stable co-existence. This roundup takes a look at recent developments in the plight faced by some of the most vulnerable Christians around the world. Continue reading Global Event | Christmas

Interregional News | Asylum-Seekers

Number of asylum-seekers drowned in Mediterranean reaches 5,000 for 2016
  • The U.N. refugee agency announced the figure—amounting to an average of 14 deaths per day—following the recent deaths of 100 asylum-seekers after two dinghies sank off the coast of Italy.
  • The number is highest annual total yet, with contributing factors including poor weather, decreased boat construction quality, increasingly crowded seas, and increasingly desperate attempts to avoid detection and deportation.
  • According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 360,000 reached Europe’s shores by sea in 2016, a significant decrease from the more than 1 million in 2015.

Read more:
Migrant crisis: UN says 5,000 drown trying to reach Europe this year” (BBC)
Mediterranean death toll is record 5,000 migrants this year: agencies” (Reuters)
‘Worst Annual Death Toll Ever’: Mediterranean Claims 5,000 Migrants” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

Global News | Palestinians

U.N. Security Council passes resolution condemning Israeli settlements in West Bank following U.S. abstention
  • The 15-member council passed the resolution 14-0-1 after it was taken up by members from four countries following its withdrawal by Egypt under pressure from U.S. President-elect Trump and Israel.
  • Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, on the increase in recent years under the conservative government of PM Benjamin Netanyahu, have involved the expropriation of land from Palestinians and the demolition of Palestinian villages.
  • Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., defied pressure from Trump, U.S. legislators, and conservative Israeli lobbyists in abstaining, paving the way for a united international declaration of the settlements as in violation of international law.

Read more:
U.N. Security Council demands end to Israeli settlements, U.S. abstains” (Reuters)
Israeli settlements: UN Security Council calls for an end” (BBC)
U.S. Abstains as U.N. Security Council Votes to Condemn Israeli Settlements” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)