Refugee board creates guidelines for deciding LGBTQ claims

May 5, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

From a Toronto Star article:Nicaraguan man was refused asylum in Canada because he had not pursued gay relationships. A gay man from St. Kitts was denied because a refugee judge said cops in his home country could've protected him. A Ugandan lesbian refugee was denied because her story was ruled not credible.

Asylum claims based on sexual orientation are hard to verify and validate, as LGBTQ claimants are an invisible minority with no membership or specific physical appearance to prove their identity, presenting a huge challenge for decision-makers at the Immigration and Refugee Board.

That challenge has prompted the board to develop its first-ever guidelines on SOGIE — short for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression — to help decision-makers handle proceedings involving the LGBTQ population.

"Questioning an individual about their SOGIE can feel intrusive and may be difficult for the individual concerned. Questioning should be done in a sensitive, nonconfrontational manner. Open-ended questions should be employed where appropriate," advises the guidelines, released this week.

"While an individual's experiences and behaviours related to their SOGIE may be expressed in both the private and public spheres, an individual's testimony may, in some cases, be the only evidence of their SOGIE."

The board has published various guidelines that focus on specific groups including children, women and civilian non-combatants in civil war situations, as well as procedures on immigration detention, scheduling and conduct at refugee hearings.

Previously, proceedings involving sexual minorities were lumped into the general guidelines in handling what the board described as "vulnerable persons."

"The guideline's intended goal is to promote a greater understanding of the diversity and complexity of the situation of individuals with diverse SOGIE; establish guiding principles for decision-makers in adjudicating cases involving them; and provide parties with a clearer understanding as to what to expect when appearing before the IRB," said refugee board spokesperson Anna Pape.

"The policy is not binding against decision-makers, but where it applies, they have to provide justifications for not doing that."

Read more: Refugee board creates guidelines for deciding LGBTQ claims