Tag Archives: Southern Africa

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.

 

Zimbabwe News | White

Zimbabwe looks to reverse Mugabe-era land reform policies amidst economic instability


Source: CGTN America via YouTube

  • Since independence, the land ownership reform and redistribution of farmland from the white settler minority to the indigenous black majority has been central to Zimbabwean politics, with most viable land having been legally restricted to white owners and large—largely white-owned—corporations in the colonial era.
  • The government began allowing for the seizure of white-owned farms without compensation after a period of voluntary land sales, and some militant groups and security forces occupied farms and drove out their owners.
  • Following the effective coup that brought about the end of President Robert Mugabe’s nearly three decades of rule, the new government, led by former Vice President Emmerson Mnangawa, has begun returning expropriated land to white farmers in an attempt to stabilize the fragile economy.
Read

Ululations, tears as white Zimbabwean farmer returns to seized land” (Reuters | December 2017)

White Zimbabwean farmer get back land seized under Robert Mugabe rule” (Sky News | December 2017)

Additional

Why Zimbabwe has failed to sate the yearning for land and to fix rural hunger” (The Conversation | December 2016)

Robert Mugabe admits Zimbabwe’s land reform flaws” (BBC News | February 2015)

South Africa News | Poor & Working Class

South African president announces free higher education for poor and working-class students
  • The change affects students from households making up to 350,000 South African rand (~USD26,715) enrolled in the country’s TVET (Technical Vocational Educational and Training) colleges.
  • President Jacob Zuma has pledged to implement the shift from loan- to grant-based subsidies in a “fiscally responsible manner,” with aid to higher education institutions set to increase from 0.7% to 1% of GDP over the next five years.
  • Critics continued to question the financing for such a sweeping initiative, with the finance minister indicating details will be deferred to the 2018 budget unveiling in February.
Read

Zuma announces free higher education for poor and working class students” (News24 | December 2017)

Gigaba: How government will fund free education to be clarified at 2018 budget” (The Mail & Guardian | December 2017)

Zuma says South Africa’s free higher education to be done in a fiscally sustainable manner” (Reuters | December 2017)

South Africa Feature | Black Youth

The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education

Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.

Read

Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)

Additional

The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)

(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)

South Africa Feature | Low-Income & Working-Class Black

The Entrenched Legacy of Housing Segregation in Cape Town

Like many global metropolises, Cape Town faces conflicts over how to secure housing rights for low- and middle-income households inflected by histories of racist social engineering. Cape Town’s situation is complicated by the legacy of housing apartheid in South Africa, which continues to render historically white-only neighborhoods financially inaccessible for many black households and threatens to uproot others as the high tide of gentrification approaches. A number of media outlets have recently examined the persistence of housing segregation in the city and political and guerrilla efforts to promote inclusive urban planning and secure affordable housing rights for black Capetonians.

Read

‘End spatial apartheid’: why housing activists are occupying Cape Town” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Profile: How gentrification is creating a new apartheid in South Africa” (The National | May 2017)

We must end Cape Town’s housing ‘apartheid’ – think-tank” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp, via The Guardian)

South Africa News | Women

Mandisa Maya first woman appointed President of South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal
  • Justice Maya was named to the third-highest post in the South African judicial system by embattled President Jacob Zuma.
  • Maya has been on the Court since 2006 and is the first woman to be appointed its leader in its 107-year history.
  • The Supreme Court of Appeal is the nation’s highest appellate court and the second-highest court in the country.
Read

Justice Maya makes history as first female SCA head” (South African Broadcasting Corporation | May 2017)

South Africa gets first female president of second highest court” (africanews | May 2017)

Judge Mandisa Maya is new president of the Supreme Court of Appeal” (Times LIVE | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Simphiwe Nkwali/Gallo Images/Sunday Times, via Times LIVE)

Tanzania News | Indian

Tanzania president seizes passports of Indian workers for project delays
  • President John Magufuli ordered the seizure of the passports of employees of Overseas Infrastructure Alliance until the water project they are overseeing is complete.
  • The project, based in the southern town of Lindi, was originally set to be completed by March 2015.
  • The seizure comes as the president has aggressively pursued measures to cut wasteful spending and target corruption while courting foreign businesses.
Read

Tanzania’s Magufuli orders seizure of expatriate construction workers’ passports” (Reuters | March 2017)