New EU asylum rules will better protect LGBT people

Today the European Parliament adopted a new version of the European Union law on asylum procedures. The text contains notable improvements for LGBT asylum-seekers.

Sylvie GUILLAUME and Dennis DE JONG MEPsThe new Directive now foresees that some asylum-seekers “may be in need of special procedural guarantees due […] to their age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity […]”.

When receiving an asylum application, Member States must now assess “whether the applicant is an applicant in need of special procedural guarantees” listed above.

Member States must now make sure LGBT applicants’ special needs are met, including if they are identified as such later during the asylum procedure.

Dennis de Jong MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, commented: “It isn’t easy to explain their story for many people who fled their country because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“Sometimes they only explain the real reason for fleeing much later in the procedure, and that can lead to contradictory statements. With the new rules, this can no longer lead to a decline of the asylum application.”

The text was agreed after a four-year debate between the European Parliament and Member States.

Sylvie Guillaume MEP, Rapporteur for the Directive, explained: “Thanks to the revised Directive adopted today, EU asylum law now includes a mechanism to identify vulnerable asylum seekers, including on the ground of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“This was strongly opposed by most Member States, and it’s one of our very clear achievements.”

“States will now have to identify asylum-seekers who need special procedural guarantees, determine the nature of these needs, and respond to them adequately. We will be very vigilant to the implementation of this Directive by Member States, and particularly to the effectiveness of the identification mechanism.”

These new rules will apply after they are transposed into Member States’ national laws, except for the United Kingdom and Ireland who opted out of the process. Denmark may align its law with the new rules, but is not legally obliged to.

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