Press Release

Kaleidoscope Australia launches Global Best Practice Guide to processing LGBTI refugees

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New Guide lays out for the first time a framework for processing refugees fleeing persecution because of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex grounds

Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, 24 June, Kaleidoscope Australia, a not-for-profit organisation committed to promoting and protecting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the Asia Pacific region, will today launch a Best Practice Guide for assessing claims for refugee status grounded on persecution based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex grounds. The Guide, which is the result of a collaboration between Kaleidoscope Australia and global law firm K&L Gates, for the first time provides reliable information and practical guidance on how to assess an application for refugee status from LGBTI persons.

Dr Paula Gerber, President of Kaleidoscope Australia commented:
“ We developed this Guide because we saw a real need to establish some basic principles. Our hope is that this guide will assist governments around the world to properly and fairly assess applications for refugee status based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex grounds. The guide should also be a useful tool for refugee advocates to use when assisting asylum seekers with their claims. There are some existing resources that spell out what decision-makers should NOT do when assessing refugee claims based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex grounds; the type of questions they should NOT ask. But to our knowledge, this is the first Guide to give detailed, practical guidance on how to interview asylum seekers, and to provide sample questions that are appropriate to ask. “

Nick Nichola, Managing Partner of K&L Gates Australia added:
“We believe it is our professional responsibility to provide access to justice to those that need it most and our lawyers have specialised and unique skill-set that allow them to help the most vulnerable. We are very proud to have worked with Kaleidoscope Australia to produce the most comprehensive guide available to assist those assessing the claims of refugees fleeing persecution because of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex grounds.”

The launch will take place tonight, Wednesday 24th June 2015 between 6 & 8pm at K&L Gates, Level 25, South Tower, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne. Speakers will include Kaleidoscope Australia President Dr Paula Gerber and Dennis Altman, Professorial Fellow in Human Security, Institute for Human Security and Social Change, La Trobe University. You can see the invite here.

Globally, in 2012, around 175 million LGBTI people were living in persecutory environments (according to ORAM International). Only around 5,000 people from these nations annually are able to apply for asylum based on sexual orientation,gender identity or intersex grounds, and of those, only around half are successful. This is likely to be because of discriminatory and inappropriate practices in assessing these claims for refugee status. There are numerous documented cases of applications being rejected because a decision-maker did not believe an applicant was LGBTI based on stereotypes, such as:

• they were not effeminate in the case of a male, or butch in the case of a lesbian;
• they had been married or had children;
• they did not frequent gay clubs; or
• they could not name western gay ‘icons’ such as Oscar Wilde.

These issues of credibility are leading LGBTI asylum seekers to take drastic measures such as tendering as evidence photographs or videos of them engaging in sexual acts. Such practices clearly infringe their dignity and their human right to privacy.