Thursday, February 27, 2020
When I teach students how to identify a particular social group, I talk a lot about sexuality. Matter of Toboso-Alfonso is my go to: Gay men in Cuba at the time shared a common immutable characteristic (being gay) that was defined with particularly (just gay men) and that group was socially distinct within Cuba (as evidenced by registries for and publicly-maintained files on gay men).
I have not, however, talked about how to prove that a given client is gay.
As this article from the BBC points out, that may not be as easy at it seems. Check out this compelling opening paragraph:
Angel fled Zimbabwe in fear of her life after police found her in bed with another woman five years ago. It's taken most of the time since then for her to convince the Home Office that she is gay and will be persecuted if she returns. But how do you prove something you spent your life trying to hide?
I strongly recommend reading the entire article. It delves into the types of questions Angel was asked during her seven-hour interview with an immigration official in the UK. It addresses the emotional toil of such testimony and the pressure to be convincing as well as truthful. Notably, the interviewer's notes are interspersed with the following comments:
**Applicant is crying**
**Applicant is still crying**
**Applicant still crying**
The article also includes some interesting statistics about LGBTQI asylum claims in the UK:
- >1,500 people seek asylum in the UK on sexuality grounds every year
- From 2015 to 2018 asylum denials for these claims jumped from 61% to 71%.
- During that same time frame, appellate courts overturns of these denials rose from 32% to 38%