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ADDED ON: 05/02/2021

LGBTI refugees denied asylum by Home Affairs bigotry

5/1/21 | News 24

A report released on Thursday by several civil society organisations has found evidence that LGBT refugees are being denied asylum in South Africa despite being, “… eligible for protection under international and domestic law”, GroundUp reports. The authors of the report surveyed denial letters for 67 asylum applicants who had applied for asylum on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI). The letters were written by 32 Refugee Status Determination Officers (RSDOs) in Cape Town, Musina, Gqeberha, and Pretoria between 2010 and 2020. Amy-Leigh Payne, attorney at the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), summarising the report findings, said that the Refugees Act requires South Africa to extend protection to people who have a well-founded fear of SOGI-based persecution. The report identifies among others the following discriminatory practices by Home Affairs officials: The use of stereotypes about sexual and/or gender minorities to justify denials; displays of bigotry or hostility, evidenced by the use of derogatory language in official documentation; and, a high proportion of credibility concerns raised about applicants’ identities rather than their asylum claims. In one egregious case the RSDO found that a Zambian asylum seeker could not be “a gay” because he claimed he experienced pain when he was raped. The report found some RSDOs, “… seem unaware that SOGI-based persecution is accepted grounds for asylum, or that sexual and gender minorities constitute a protected social group under the Refugees Act”. Asylum claims were therefore denied on the grounds that they were “manifestly unfounded”.

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