Academic journal article Refuge

No One to Bear Witness: Country Information and LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

Academic journal article Refuge

No One to Bear Witness: Country Information and LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

Article excerpt


This article examines the use of country information in determining claims for refugee status based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Limitations to country information remove diverse individual experiences from the "historical record" and obstruct marginalized individuals' ability to prove their claims for protection. Discrimination and marginalization may be echoed and perpetuated within country information itself which privileges certain voices over others, MD (same-sex-oriented males: risk) India cg [2014], the United Kingdom's current "country guidance" decision on claims for protection by same-sex oriented men from India, is examined in light of these themes.


Cet article etudie l'utilisation de renseignements sur le pays d'origine afin de determiner les demandes de statut de refugie en lien avec l'orientation sexuelle et l'identite de genre. Les limites en matiere de renseignements sur le pays d'origine effacent du registre historique diverses experiences individuelles et font obstruction a la capacite qu'ont des personnes marginalisees de justifier leur demande de protection. La discrimination et la marginalisation peuvent etre repetees et prorogees par l'information meme delivree par les pays, qui privilegie certaines voix sur d'autres. A la lumiere de ces themes de reflexion est etudie le document du Upper Tribunal (Royaume-Uni) md (same-sex oriented males: risk) India cg [2014], qui etablit les lignes directrices actuelles de pays en matiere de decision concernant les demandes de protection pour les hommes homosexuels provenant d'Inde.


Country information is an essential part of refugee status determination (RSD). Information about countries from which asylum seekers have fled ("countries of origin") can help to prove that claimed experiences of past persecution occurred and that asylum seekers would be at risk of harm in future. (2) However, country information must not be used uncritically. It can never provide an objective, exhaustive guide to events in a particular country, as if recounted by an omniscient narrator of events. All sources of country information are selective, edited accounts of particular circumstances, of varying focus and breadth. These accounts must be interpreted rather than merely taken at face value, having due regard to their biases, priorities, and intended usage.

The potential of country information to mislead, and the corresponding need for informed and close analysis, is particularly acute in assessing the claims of asylum seekers whose claims for protection are based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity (referred to in short as "LGBTQ asylum seekers"). Sexuality is fluid, intensely personal, and potentially experienced in highly variable ways from person to person and within each individuals own lifetime. (3) Country information can provide only limited corroboration for how individual sexual acts or identities will be experienced, valued, or treated, or for the potentially significant distinctions between sexual minority groups (and how such groups are perceived by agents of persecution) in countries of origin.

This article examines the use of country information in assessing claims for protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In particular, this article discusses the extent to which country information may be distorted by "privilege" and insufficient regard to diverse, individual, and intersectional experiences of sexuality and gender, with the United Kingdom Upper Tribunals "country guidance" decision in MD (same-sex-oriented males: risk) India cg [2014] (4) ("MD") analyzed as a case study. This article draws upon the authors experiences as a former researcher and solicitor with an Australian law firm with a significant practice in refugee law.

Country Information: History and Controversies

"Country information" is information about other nations used in RSD. …

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