In this episode we discuss how to overcome systemic barriers in LGBTQ asylum claims. Much of this episode is dedicated to establishing how LGBTQ asylum claimants must prove their sexual identity during their refugee claim. How does someone from a country where being gay is illegal and who has been a closeted homosexual for their entire life prove that they are gay? What do Immigration and Refugee Board members expect? How can counsel assist? Finally, we discuss whether LGBTQ asylum claimants should even be required to prove their sexual orientation as part of their asylum claim.
Sharalyn Jordan is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University. She works with with community agencies that support LGBTQ and refugee mental health as they develop and assess their counselling practices and programs.
1:13 – Sharalyn provides an overview of the history of how Canada’s immigration and refugee system has restricted the ability of LGBT people to relocate to Canada.
5:12 – Canada’s immigration and refugee system often requires that people prove their sexual orientation. How can LGBT people prove their orientation?
20:00 – Are there circumstances in which an Immigration and Refugee Board member can reject a person’s claimed identity?
34:30 – What degree of membership in a LGBT community is required or the norm for an LGBT refugee claimant?
36:40 – What is the standard of persecution in the LGBT context?
44:10 – What changes does Sharalyn think need to be made to Canada’s refugee system?
53:30 – Steven expresses concerns with the idea of not questioning one’s identity, and has his concerns answered.
Post Show Notes
After listening to this episode one might want to see examples of decisions where the Refugee Protection Division engaged in reasoning that was not sensitive to LGBT issues. Isesele v. Canada (Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship) is a good example. There, the Federal Court set aside a decision in which the RPD determined that a bisexual woman could avoid persecution if she simply kept a “low profile.”
Another example would be Avril v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2019 FC 1512, wherein an officer stated:
[…] the photographs […] provide insufficient evidence to substantiate her sexual orientation as a lesbian. For instance, it is not uncommon for homosexual men/women to enter into intimate heterosexual relationships, going as far as to having children, and later coming out as being homosexual. Likewise, heterosexual men/women may explore their sexuality with the same sex; however, this is not indicative of their sexual preference as being homosexual.