LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

ILGA-Europe ask Timmermans: where is the EU going on refugees and LGBTI asylum seekers?

Yesterday, ILGA-Europe and other human rights NGOs sat down with Frans Timmermans. On the agenda? The European Commission’s role and plan for the ongoing refugee situation and integration of migrants.

ILGA-Europe and other human rights NGOs from the HRDN (The Human Rights and Democracy) network met with the First Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans.

The network of NGOs wanted to discuss the European Commission’s role and plans in the current refugee situation and regarding the integration of migrants. ILGA-Europe stressed the specific situation of LGBTI refugees and the problems that the list of ‘safe countries’ can pose for their asylum claims. ILGA-Europe also underlined the need to promote diversity and fight hate speech/crime in the current intense political climate.

The meeting with the Vice-President was timely as the European Council starts a two-day top level meeting today. The refugee situation is on their agenda too. Prior the Council meeting, NGOs working on refugees and migrants issues expressed their concerns with recent statements from the Dutch government and from the European Commission. Earlier this month, the Commission explicitly encouraged Member States to introduce the notion of ‘safe third countries’ – which in practice means that people in need of protection can be sent back to Turkey and can be blocked from entering the European Union from Turkish shores.

ILGA-Europe are equally worried about this change of tone. LGBTI asylum seekers generally do not benefit from proper reception conditions and assistance, which reinforces the existing procedural challenges. The complexity of their claims is not always properly taken into account and people fall through the cracks. The chance of this happening increases greatly if procedures based on the concept of ‘safe country of origin’ and ‘safe third country’ are applied. Regarding Turkey, ILGA-Europe’s reports on human rights violations against LGBTI people and specifically against LGBTI refugees clearly show that Turkey is not a safe country.

UN Special Rapporteur François Crépeau has also sounded a note of caution for Europe, saying that “in its struggle to maintain control of its borders… it is being tested on its adherence to human rights.” We urge the EU and all its Member States to proceed with the utmost care, as they are not treating asylum claims based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity as they should.

Read more about the current situation for LGBTI asylum seekers in Europe here.