Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Paper: Credibility issues of LGBTI asylum seekers in Turkey

By Marta D'Epifanio

Recent research has shown how after a general acceptance of the fact that it is a human right to live out sexual orientation and gender identity and claim the refugee status on the persecution on such ground, the process to prove the genuinity of such an identity has encountered several obstacles. While usually information and reports come from English speaking countries and common law jurisdictions where the asylum procedure is run by different institutions, the UNHCR runs the refugee status determination (RSD) procedure in Turkey. Turkey has ratified the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol which removed the previous limitations; however, despite many calls for the lifting of the limitation, Turkey still maintains the geographical ban created by the Refugee Convention

It was not until September 2008 that UNHCR started to include sexual orientation or gender identity as a field ‘of action’. That same year, UNHRC issued a guidance note recognizing that individuals being persecuted due to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) should be considered to be ‘fleeing due to membership of a particular social group.’ This applies to Turkey too so that in the aftermath of the decision by the UNHCR, asylum seekers are either resettled to a third country or deported. Despite these limitations, Turkey is the recipient of the largest number of Iranian LGBTI refugees because of its position in close proximity to the Islamic Republic of Iran and because it does not require a visa for Iranians. that prevents the resettlement of non-European refugees inside the country. Non-European asylum seekers are considered as
‘temporary asylum seekers’ and are allowed by the ‘foreigners’ police to stay in the country while waiting for the assessment and decision of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In this paper I will address the process of credibility assessment for LGBTI asylum seekers in the interviewing process by the UNHCR in Turkey, differences from earlier years and what are the indicators considered in order to ‘confirm’ a LGBTI identity.

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