Par: Ahmed Hamila, étudiant au doctorat en Science politique à l’Université de Montréal

This article is published with the kind permission of his
author and was originally published in the journal Dire
(Fall 2017, Number 26, Volume 3)

As a champion of LGBTQ rights, Canada is often presented as a role model for the protection of persecuted asylum seekers in their home country because of their sexual orientation. However, many criticize the way in which the hearings with these claimants are conducted and judge the questions asked by the commissioners inadequate. To remedy this situation, the Immigration and Refugee Board (CSIR) has just developed guidelines on how to establish the credibility of these asylum seekers. Homosexuality is penalized in 72 countries. In a dozen of them, LGBTQ people incur the death penalty in case of sexual relations with a person of the same sex. Many flee their country of origin to seek international protection in countries that are more respectful of human rights. However, according to the Organization for Refugees, Asylum & Migration, a tiny minority of asylum seekers persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation obtain refugee status, often because Commissioners believe that the claimant’s homosexuality is not credible. How to establish the sexual orientation of an asylum seeker? Every country has its methods. Until recently, the Czech Republic and Slovakia used « phallometry tests » which measured the applicant’s physical reaction to pornographic images. In Germany and Poland, the competent authorities recommend that the applicant provide homosexuality « of psychologists, psychiatrists or sexologists. In Belgium and France, in addition to the applicant’s testimony, witness statements or « attestations » from LGBTQ organizations are sometimes submitted to resolve credibility issues. Finally, in most countries, including Canada, stereotyped, culturally biased, and sexually explicit questions are often asked of the claimant to establish their credibility: « Did you practice fellatio, coitus? », « What do you think you want homosexuality? Is it a normal relationship or a psychological problem? « , » Where are you going to satisfy your homosexual desires? « To respond to criticism from associations and to ensure better treatment of LGBTQ issues, The Canadian Refugee Agency, the IRB, published on May 1, 2017, guidelines on how to conduct hearings with applicants who are persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation. These guidelines are organized around three main points: using appropriate language (which takes into account the gender to which the applicant identifies and free from negative connotations), understanding the difficulties faced by the applicant in establishing his or her sexual orientation ( account of culture, religion, social class, education and family background) and avoid stereotyping when establishing the facts (such as thinking that sexual minorities have feminized or masculinized appearance or ways). With the release of these guidelines, Canada is better able to meet its international commitments by aligning with the practices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which in 2012 issued guidelines on the treatment of asylum claims related to sexual orientation.