Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović said "open minds" are needed in Europe to improve protection for LGBTI asylum seekers.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović said "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people face serious violations of their human rights on account of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics" around the world in a recent article. Mijatović added that open minds are needed to improve protection of LGBTI asylum seekers in Europe. 


Challenges for LGBTI asylum seekers 

Human rights violations against LGBTI migrants include "killings, violence, the criminalisation of same-sex relations, and severe discrimination. Such violations also occur within the Council of Europe area," Mijatović said. "While we must work tirelessly for better protection of the human rights of LGBTI persons, we also need to be mindful and understanding of the fact that sometimes they have no other choice but to flee and seek safety outside their own states. In many Council of Europe member states, however, LGBTI asylum seekers face a number of challenges to seeking such safety, which require urgent attention." 

Among these challenges are the way that international standards are interpreted and applied in different Council of Europe member states, which Mijatović said "may prevent LGBTI asylum seekers from being granted the protection they need." In addition, LGBTI persons may also encounter problems in convincing European states' asylum authorities of their sexual orientation or gender identity. "Asylum decisions rely to a large extent on the authorities' assessment of whether the claim made by the asylum seeker can be considered credible," said Mijatović.

Suggestions for European member states 

Mijatović said in order to improve protection for LGBTI asylum seekers, "European states should ensure that their laws explicitly recognise a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics as valid grounds for recognition as a refugee." She said member states must "take into account the authoritative guidance provided by UNHCR" and there was an "urgent need for training for all those involved in the asylum procedure."
 

More articles