Seven years after the Fleeing Homophobia report was issued, and four years after the ABC-judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Dutch asylum policy regarding LGBTIs is still based on stereotypes. This is the conclusion of a research report Sabine Jansen prepared for COC Netherlands, the Dutch organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people (LGBTI).
The English translation of the report Pride or Shame? Assessing LGBTI asylum applications in the Netherlands after the judgments XYZ and ABC was published on 24 January 2019. The original Dutch version of the report was published on 23 June 2018.
For Pride or Shame? Sabine Jansen investigated 267 files at the office of the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), of which she studied forty files extensively. She also examined several hundred judgments. Although 63% of the examined files eventually led to a positive decision, in 85% of the cases that were rejected the reason for the rejection was that the stated sexual orientation was not believed. The report contains many quotes from the files to illustrate the findings, and now it has been translated into English.
At the time of the research the main focus of Dutch LGBTI asylum policy was the stereotypical expectation that LGBTIs in a country where the climate is hostile to them, always go through a ‘process of awareness’ and a ‘process of self-acceptance’. In addition, they are supposed to feel ashamed or have experienced other negative emotions. However, the research brought to light that many LGBTI asylum seekers never experienced such processes, do not understand what these are, or cannot declare about such processes in detail. If they say they were proud to be gay, and their main problems come from others, they run a high risk of having their sexual orientation not believed and their asylum claim rejected.
Because it is not possible to assess the sexual orientation or gender identity of another person, instead of relying on stereotypes according to Jansen and COC the focus of asylum policy should be on self-identification: how do asylum seekers self-identify regarding their identity?
The research was financially supported by the Asylum and Migration Fund of the European Union and the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security. Members of the advisory committee included prof. Thomas Spijkerboer, prof. Ashley Terlouw, asylum lawyer Marcel van der Linde and Sadhia Rafi of the Dutch Council for Refugees.
After the publication of the Dutch version of the report in June 2018, the State Secretary for Justice and Security issued a new policy and abandoned the stereotypical criteria ‘process of awareness’ and ‘process of self-acceptance’. At the same time, these criteria still play a role in the assessment of – at least some – asylum applications of people who flee persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. COC will carefully monitor the implementation of the new policy in practice.
In 2011, Sabine Jansen and Thomas Spijkerboer wrote Fleeing Homophobia, Asylum claims related to sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe.