The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation has ruled in favor of a homosexual migrant from the Ivory Coast. He had been denied refugee status in Italy even though he said he faced serious threats from his family back home.
The court said that prior to denying someone refugee status,
the authorities must not only make sure that there are no discriminatory laws in the person's homecountry. They must also be sure that there is "adequate
protection" for gay people there. This means that Italian asylum officers must be sure that someone does not face "persecution" by family members back home.
The judges ruled in a case brought to the court by a homosexual migrant from the Ivory Coast who said he was threatened by relatives.
Can authorities protect the person?
The territorial commission in Crotone had denied the man refugee status, stating that "in the Ivory Coast, in contrast to other African countries, homosexuality is not considered a crime, and the state doesn't have a condition of armed conflict or widespread violence."
The high court judges ruled that these parametres weren't enough to justify denying the man refugee status.
Bakayoko Aboubakar S., a married Muslim with two children, said he had become subject to "disrespect and accusations by his wife and his father," the village imam, "after having had a homosexual relationship." He decided to flee when his partner was "killed in unknown circumstances" which he said were the work of his father, the imam.
The asylum authorities in Crotone should have examined whether
Bakayoko Aboubakar S.
would have been protected by threats from his family in Ivory Coast, the high court said. Previously, a local court and a local court of appeals had ruled in favor of the Crotone territorial commission.
The case will now go before another appeals court for a final decision.
"Safety risks were not evaluated"
In their ruling, the supreme court judges said that despite the fact that there were doubts about the migrant's credibility, "his specific situation wasn't considered" and the "effective" risks to his safety in the Ivory Coast were not adequately evaluated.
"To this end, it does not appear sufficient that in his country of origin, the Ivory Coast, homosexuality is not considered a crime, given that verification is needed to ascertain adequate protection by the state in the face of the very serious threats by private individuals," the judges said.