European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association

European Parliament introduces sexual orientation and gender identity in revised EU directive on asylum

Today the European Parliament voted in favour of a report which contains a number of measures strengthening the applications from individuals claiming asylum in the European Union due to persecutions because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

This report, prepared by Sylvie Guillaume (Socialists & Democrats, France), is part of a revision process of 2005 EU asylum procedure directive which sets up minimum standards for EU Member States in relation to asylum procedures.

The European Parliament’s amendments explicitly clarify that individuals claiming asylum due to persecution because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity are covered by the concept ‘asylum seekers with special needs’ and therefore a particular vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) asylum seekers should be taken into consideration. There is a number of positive consequences of such explicit reference:

  • training of asylum officers
  • possibility for the asylum officers to seek advice from experts
  • competence of the person in charge of interviewing the asylum seeker
  • non-disclosure of personal circumstances to members of the family
  • granting sufficient time to prepare interview.

ILGA-Europe welcomes today’s vote at the European Parliament. Existing research demonstrates that LGBT asylum seekers are often vulnerable when it comes to asylum process: they are afraid to disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity to officials, there are translation and terminology problems when describing particular experiences of LGBT individuals, lack of training of asylum officers and lack of information on the situation in the country of origin.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe Executive Board, said:

“Today’s vote at the European Parliament is a strong signal that revised EU asylum procedure directive needs to take into account the particular circumstances of LGBTI asylum seekers. Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, the European Parliament plays a greater role in the EU legislative process, therefore we hope that today’s vote at the European Parliament will be seriously taken by the European Commission and the Council and will be used as guidelines in further legislative steps towards improving EU asylum procedure directive.

Moreover, we believe it is also recognition of the fact that LGBT people in many parts of the world are subjected to danger and threats to their lives and that it is EU’s moral duty to offer them hope and help.”

****

Text of the report adopted at the European Parliament:

Report by Sylvie Guillaume on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimal standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing international protection (recast)