Persecution because of gender or sexual orientation
last update: October 2015
The following has been copiedfrom “GoodAdvise” published by FARR 2015 , PAGE 55-56
Specificadvice for women
The Swedish Aliens Act is meant to be gender neutral. At the same time, a traditionally male perspective has shaped the asylum process. In practice, this makes it difficult for women to get their reasons for asylum validated, since they are often persecuted in different ways than men.
Try to find a legal representative with knowledge aboutwomen’s reasons
If you are in need of protection due to a reason related to your gender it may be important for you to get a legal counsel who has experience in advocating women’s asylum claims.
Emphasize the political implications of what you have done
In many parts of the world, the political activities of men and women take different forms. Even if you have been the victim of abuse specifically because you are a woman who has voiced protest and refused to be dominated, your reasons for seeking asylum may not necessarily be regarded as political. Objections to social, cultural and religious norms do notalways fit into the image of what counts as politics. Therefore, it is important for you toemphasizethat your activities or your way of life were the result of political choices, even ifyou may not have been organized in an overtly political movement.
If the migration authorities do not regard you as being a refugee on political groundsthey can use a different reason listed in the same section: persecution due to gender. According to the government bill, “gender” should be interpreted as both a social and abiological category. The concept also covers... socially and culturally determined, stereotypical understandings of how men and womenshould behave.
This section is also relevant if you have been persecuted for being transgender – for example if you do not fit into just one gender category, dress in clothes that are traditionally worn by a different gender or wish to perform gender reassignment therapy, commonly known as sex change. Usually,however, persecution due to gender often means abuse against women for beingwomen. The Migration Agency has announced that gender-‐related persecution can include anything from forced abortion and domestic abuse to women being punished for their political activities. It may be that you have been forced to flee because you have refused to follow the social norms of your native country, like wearing a veil. It may also be that someone wishes to force you to marry or be circumcised. If you have fled due to reasons likethis you should clarify that you made a conscious decision to act against the norms ofsociety.
The expression persecution due to gender is also used to describe persecution because of political or ethnic reasons, where the actual acts of persecution take a specifically genderedform. For example, you may, as a result of political persecution (as conventionally understood), have been subjected to sexual violence. In such cases it may be more difficult to prove that this was an act of persecution, compared to if you had been subjected to some other form of torture. You must be able to show that the abuse was systematic.
Draw attention to your reasons
During your asylum inquiry it is crucial that you draw attention to gender-‐related protection needs. Otherwise there is a risk that your public counsel and the authorities might overlook them.
Reveal everything as early as possible
According to its internal policy, the Migration Agency should show understanding if femaleasylum seekers cannot disclose information concerning particularly traumatic eventsstraight away. It could also be that you, due to cultural or language differences, express yourself in a way that the Swedish caseworker cannot understand. For example, you may not feel comfortable talking to a man about what you have been through. The MigrationAgencydoes not always show an understanding of the fact that trauma affects how and when people choose to tell others about their experiences. It is therefore very important thatyou account for your traumatic experiences as early and in as much detail as possible, even those events that you find especially sensitive and difficult to talk about. If you do not trust your legal counsel or caseworker, it is important for you to find someone else to talk to who can then relay your story. You can also submit a written account of what has happened in your own language. You have the right to request a female interpreter and a female caseworker.
THE FOLLOWING HAS BEEN COPIED FROM “GOOD ADVISE” PUBLISHED BY FARR 2015, PAGE 59-60
Specificadvice foryou whohave been,or want tobe,in a same-sexrelationship
It is not illegal in Sweden to have sexual relations with a person of the same sex and according to Swedish law discrimination due to sexual orientation is forbidden. Homo- and bisexual people have almost the same legal rights as heterosexual individuals today, and many are open about their orientation. Sweden is a relatively tolerant society compared to many other countries. There are organizations working for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights and plenty of social venues for people to meet.
Do not hide your sexual orientation
Persecution in your native country due to your sexual orientation may grant you asylum inSweden. Therefore it is important that you tell your public counsel and your caseworkerabout everything that you have been subjected to. For someone who comes from a place where homosexuality is not tolerated it is easy to believe that they might react in a strange way, but there should be no need to worry about this. Your lawyer is there to help you andthe caseworker must follow the law (in Sweden it is illegal to discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression).
Reveal everything as soon as possible
If you do not reveal your reasons for fleeing right away there is a risk that the migrationauthorities will not believe you when you finally do tell them. It is therefore important that you tell them everything right from the start.
If you like – ask for a separate interview
If you came to Sweden with your family and do not want them to find out certain things that you have gone through you may request a separate interview about your personalgrounds for asylum. You can then say that you wish for any decisions based on this interviewto be sent to you separately and that this information must not reach the other members of the family. In certain situations you may even request a different public counsel from the one assigned to the rest of your family.
Explain why you cannot get protection in your home country
A common reason for denial of asylum is that the Migration Agency believes that you canseek protection from authorities or organizations in your country of origin. If you cannot get protection, the burden of proof lies on you. State officials might have sanctioned the abuse, or there might not exist any legal or practical protection against the type of persecution that you have been subjected to. In many countries the police do not protecthomosexualpeople. If this is the case, you may still be regarded as a refugee. It is importantthat you explain why the police have not given you help, or why you may noteven have filed a complaint. If you can, offer examples of how the authorities perceive homosexuality and try to gather evidence to support your claims.
Help gather information about the situation in your country of origin
The Migration Agency gathers information on the countries that asylum seekers come from. This country information is then used in making decisions. The migration authorities usually do not know much about the situation for homosexuals in your country. If there is any information, it often only concerns homosexual men, not women. Therefore it can be useful to contribute your own information: give detailed accounts of what you know, try to find reports, articles or certificates from organizations. Give the information to your publiccounsel so that he or she can compile it.
HERE ARE SOME POTENTIALLY USEFUL WEBSITES and CONTACTS:
RFSL Newcomers http://rfslstockholm.se/medlemsgrupper/newcomers/
RFSL, The National Federation for homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people’s rights is a big organization that can give you support or help. RFSL – National Federation for sexual equality exists in many cities.
Tel: 08-501 62 900
Lgbtqi-group of the No one Is Illegal network in stockholm: