Gay asylum applications rejected on the basis of prejudice

05/09/2011
Submitted by VU University Amsterdam and COC Netherlands

Press Release of VU University Amsterdam and COC Netherlands

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European countries regularly reject the asylum applications of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) asylum applicants on the basis of prejudices and stereotypes. Researchers of COC Netherlands (the oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in the world) and VU University Amsterdam draw this conclusion in the Fleeing Homophobia report, which will be presented at a conference in Amsterdam on 5 September.


Sabine Jansen (COC) and Professor Thomas Spijkerboer (VU University Amsterdam) investigated during the past year how European Union Member States deal with asylum applications by LGBTI applicants who fear persecution on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity in their country of origin. The project was made possible by support of the European Commission.

One of the conclusions of the research is that EU Member States regularly reject asylum applications on the basis of prejudices and stereotypes. One example is that asylum seekers are not believed in their assertion of being homosexual if they do not behave in a caricatured feminine manner, or if a woman is not aware which penalty is imposed on lesbian sex in her country, or if asylum applicants do not participate in the lesbian or gay scene in the country of refuge. “The credibility of asylum applicants should not be assessed by relying on stereotypes”, the researchers say.

Many European countries expect asylum applicants to actively conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity in the country of origin in order to prevent homophobic or transphobic violence. In this way, Europe forces LGBTI individuals to keep hiding. “By doing this, European countries support homophobia and transphobia; asylum applicants should not be sent back into the closet”, the researchers conclude.

Moreover, not enough recognition is given to the fact that in many countries homosexuality is still a criminal offence. In these cases, “LGBTI asylum applicants from such countries should in principle be granted asylum”, according to the researchers.

Vice-Chair Wouter Neerings of COC Netherlands: “Together with its European partner organizations, COC will put pressure on European authorities to effectively put in place an asylum policy which better protects LGBTI asylum applicants in Europe.”

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The research report Fleeing Homophobia. Asylum Claims Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Europe will be presented at the international Fleeing Homophobia conference, which will take place at VU University Amsterdam on Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 September.

The Fleeing Homophobia report can be acquired through VU University Press Office and COC.

For more information please contact:
VU University Press Office, +31 20 5985666 or press@vu.nl
Press officer COC Netherlands (Philip Tijsma), +31 (0)6 3958 3789
Available for interviews:
- Thomas Spijkerboer, professor of Migration Law, VU University Amsterdam
- Wouter Neerings, Vice-Chair of COC Netherlands

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