asylum, sexuality, LGBTQI, Refugees, refugee law, european union, European Asylum Policy, LGBTI Rights, Reform, Sexual orientation, Gender identity
Since the 1990s, the European Union (EU) has slowly developed an increasingly sophisticated body of asylum law and policy, known as the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). This framework – both in the shape of legislative instruments and case law – has inevitably also affected those asylum seekers who claim asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI). This has been vividly demonstrated by particular norms in EU asylum instruments and judgments of the Court of Justice of EU (CJEU).
The current CEAS can be said to have several shortcomings in relation to SOGI claims, including in relation to: country of origin information; the notion of ‘safe country of origin’; the burden of proof and the principle of benefit of the doubt; the concept of a ‘particular social group’; and the definition of persecution. A new set of proposals for reform of the CEAS was put forward in 2016 by the European Commission, and these also affect SOGI asylum claims in precise and acute ways.
This policy brief scrutinises these proposals of reform, and assesses the extent to which these proposals and different institutional positions address, ignore or aggravate the issues that currently affect asylum seekers who identify as LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex). The policy brief makes fifteen recommendations for European policymakers in regards to the reform of the CEAS, in order to ensure that the needs of LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees are effectively addressed and their rights are respected. Academics from the University of Sussex working on the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum (SOGICA) project, funded by the European Research Council, are calling for policymakers to implement these recommendations in order to render the CEAS fairer for SOGI asylum seekers.