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Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The sad journey of gay refugees in France


NB: Bad translation from the French

In some countries like Pakistan, India or even Russia, the mere fact of being homosexual may expose you to persecution, threats of torture, even death sentences. Yet how many of these people concerned know that it is possible to request political asylum because of his sexual orientation?

Often, those who finally fled their country to take refuge in France don't reveal the reason for their departure, and seek asylum on that basis. Success in obtaining this right of asylum remains very difficult, particularly because of the taboo surrounding homosexuality, and the perceived impossibility of proving sexual orientation.

Lawyer Edouard Bera is the vice-president of the Ardhis, Association for the recognition of the rights of gay and transsexual people to immigration and residence. The group tries to look after gays or lesbian refugees and advocates for them.

For Rue89, Bera explains why this type of application is difficult in France.

The possibility of obtaining political refugee status on grounds of sexual orientation is fairly recent. The first case dates back to 1998, when the Appeals Committee of refugees granted this status to a transsexual Algerian.

To understand this decision, the court returned to the definition of political asylum under the Geneva Convention. This lists the causes of discrimination, based on examples of ethnicity or social group. If a country is clearly homophobic, this means that a 'gay community' of any sort can be likened to a social group.

It is estimated that each month in France there are one to two applications for asylum because of sexual orientation. The Ardhis is currently dealing with two, very different cases. One concerns a refugee from India, the other from Russia. Two very different situations, but both are entitled to refugee status.

Original article in French

Interview with Edouard Bera (in French)


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