The persecution of people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity is not a new phenomenon. It is only in more recent years that a growing number of asylum claims have been made by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals. This has necessitated greater awareness among decision-makers of the specific experiences of LGBTI asylum-seekers and a deeper examination of the legal questions involved.
UNHCR has issued several interpretive instruments recognizing the specific protection needs of LGBTI individuals. The following summary details UNHCR’s views in regards to the analysis of LGBTI claims and particular issues which may arise under such claims. This summary provides guidance on how to use UNHCR’s views and international law to assist asylum-seekers in the United States.
- How to Use UNHCR’s Views on Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity based Asylum Claims in U.S. Courts
On April 20th, UNHCR and Texas A&M University School of Law co-hosted a training on "Representing LGBTI Asylum-Seekers: Leveraging International Law to Strengthen Asylum Claims."
- Recording available here.
- Guidelines on Claims to Refugee Status based on Sexual Orientation and/or Gender Identity within the context of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (2012) (providing substantive and procedural guidance on the determination of refugee status of individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity)
- UNHCR, Discussion Paper, The Protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Asylum-Seekers and Refugees (2010) (highlighting protection gaps for LGBTI asylum-seekers and refugees at various stages of the displacement cycle and describing issues that are unique to LGBTI asylum-seekers)
- UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (2008) (focusing on developments in the analysis and interpretation of sexual orientation and gender identity issues in the refugee law context)
- Bringas-Rodriguez v. Lynch, UNHCR Amicus Curiae Brief in Support of Petitioner’s Petition for Panel Rehearing or Rehearing En Banc (2016) (articulating UNHCR's view that evidence of improved country conditions for LGBTI individuals does not suffice to reject an asylum claim)
- UNHCR Intervention before the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in the case of HJ (Iran) and HT (Cameroon) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (2010) (articulating UNHCR's view that asylum-applicants can not be expected to avoid persecution by hiding or denying the characteristics and identity for which they fear persecution)
- UNHCR Report, Women on the Run: First-Hand Accounts of Refugees Fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico (2015) (examining why women are fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America and Mexico in search of protection)
- UNHCR Report, Children on the Run: Unaccompanied Children Leaving Central America and Mexico and the Need for International Protection (examining why unaccompanied children are fleeing the Northern Triangle of Central America and Mexico)
NTCA and Mexico Country Conditions Reports
Country conditions reports should be submitted with the asylum application. Such reports provide the adjudicator with background information about the human rights situation in the applicant’s country of origin or last habitual residence.
- NIJC: Useful Documents for Attorneys Representing Asylum Seekers
- Immigration Equality: Working with LGBT/H Asylum Seekers
- Immigration Equality: Asylum Manual (2014)
- LGBT Freedom Asylum Network: Supporting LGBT Asylum Seekers in the United States (2015)
- Center for Gender & Refugee Studies: LGBT- Related Violence
- HealthRight International Human Rights Clinic (providing forensic psychological, medical, and gynecological evaluations for survivors of torture and other human rights abuses for use in immigration proceedings)