Friday, 18 November 2011

Dutch relax rules for gay binational couples, possibly Ugandan gay refugees

A SVG version of the Netherlands Coat of ArmsImage via Wikipedia
By Paul Canning

The Netherlands is to introduce a temporary residency permit for gay would-be immigrants who want to move to be with a Dutch partner but cannot do so because they are not married.

At the moment, foreign partners can only move to the Netherlands under family reunion rules if they are married or have a legally-binding relationship.

But gay couples cannot either marry or register their relationship in many countries, so the government is introducing the short-term marriage permit to help them get married and live together in the Netherlands. Once the couple has tied the knot, the permit can be swapped for an ordinary residency permit.

Other couples who are not allowed to marry because of religious or other legal constraints will also be able to take advantage of the new visa system, immigration minister Geert Leers told MPs 15 November.

The conservative government's coalition agreement with the anti-immigration Freedom Party (PVV) stated that couples could only be reunited if they are married, but the PVV has agreed to the change.

Leers has also agreed to an investigation into the abuse of LGBT people in Dutch asylum centres. The Minister will also look at the procedure regarding LGBT asylum seekers from Uganda. The Netherlands, uniquely, has a legal presumption in favout of LGBT asylum seekers from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, making it easier for those fleeing those countries to claim Dutch asylum. They are classed as 'groups at risk' and this means that the evidential burden in their cases is much lower.

Dutch asylum expert Sabine Jansen says:
"LGBTs from Iran only have to 'prove' that they are LGBTs from Iran."

"Although in practice it is a little more complicated than that - it is not clear what this low burden of proof consists of, and Iranian LGBTs who came out too late to the Dutch authorities or who committed crimes, still face problems (=rejections)."
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