New practitioners’ guide launched on refugee law, sexual orientation and gender identity

Monday 22 February 2016

A new practitioners’ guide, Refugee Status Claims Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, has been launched. The guide was co-authored by Louise Hooper of Garden Court Chambers and Livio Zilli of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). The complete guide is available on the ICJ website.

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This vital guide aims to provide clarity and assistance to those navigating this area of refugee law, which can often be complex, fraught with challenges and is constantly evolving. It will provide practical and legal guidance on refugee claims for reasons of sexual orientation and/or gender identity to:

  • Legal practitioners representing individuals
  • Members of non-governmental organisations
  • Decision-makers within refugee status determination authorities
  • Members of the judiciary presiding over refugee claims
  • Officials within government departments issuing asylum policy guidance and instructions
  • UNHCR officials
  • Refugee claimants themselves

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals continue to suffer violence and exclusion and, in numerous countries, these homophobic attitudes are enshrined in law. In many asylum countries, there is a greater awareness that people fleeing persecution for these reasons can be recognised as refugees under the Refugee Convention. Even so, the application of the refugee definition continues to be inconsistent when it relates to claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The authors of this guide hope it will add much-needed clarity and direction, and will help ensure that those who are entitled to protection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity will be rightly recognised as refugees under the Convention.

Louise Hooper is a member of Garden Court Chambers’ Immigration: Asylum and Human Rights Team.

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