Study on the examination of LGBTI asylum applications in the European Union

Fleeing Homophobia, a project by COC Nederland and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, has published a report on differences in the examination of LGBTI asylum applications in member states of the European Union. The report also contains a chapter on Country of Origin Information (COI) in the LGBTI context.

Each year, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) asylum seekers apply for asylum in EU Member States. During the Fleeing Homophobia project, Sabine Jansen (COC) and Thomas Spijkerboer (VU University Amsterdam) have undertaken a comparative research about how these applications have been dealt with. Further to their findings, they have formulated policy recommendations.

The summary of the COI chapter states:

Country of origin information (COI) is crucial for the determination of asylum claims. It should be objective, complete and reliable. Therefore, it is necessary that all country reports contain information about the position of LGBTIs. This information should not only concern, or primarily focus on, gay men, but should also deal with lesbians, bisexuals, trans and intersex individuals. Furthermore, this information should not only provide facts about criminal law provisions. It should also provide data about the legal position of LGBTIs in family law, labour and social security law, affirmative action, in addition to possible protection, in policy as well as in practice, of LGBTIs against discrimination and violence. The European Asylum Support Office can play an important role in this matter. Moreover, it is crucial that available COI is used appropriately. Clearly, it may be difficult to access information about LGBTIs in some countries of origin precisely because of their poor human rights position. In particular, the absence of information – for example about the enforcement of criminalisation, or about the position of lesbians, trans or intersex people – should not be taken to mean that there is no risk. In such cases, more information must be gathered, for example from grass roots LGBTI organisations in the country of origin, or – if that is impossible – decisions should take into account the lack of accurate information, in particular by relying on the principle of ‘the benefit of the doubt’.

See pages 71-76 of the report for the full chapter on COI. You can access the report here:

Fleeing Homophobia is a project of COC Netherlands and VU University Amsterdam, in cooperation with the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, Avvocatura per i diritti LGBT/ Rete Lenford, and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles. Fleeing Homophobia is funded by the European Refugee Fund, the Dutch Ministry of Justice, and the participating organisations. A conference is co-sponsored by Everaert Immigration Lawyers.

Update, November 2011: The report is now available in German language.

Update 2, June 2013: See also the book published by Routledge in May 2013, edited by Thomas Spijkerboer:

Spijkerboer, Thomas (ed.): Fleeing Homophobia – Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Asylum, 24 May 2013

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