Sexual identity persecution and eventual recognition of the refugee status of a Gambian beneficiary

Copyright: Isabelle Merminod

Sexual identity persecution and eventual recognition of the refugee status of a Gambian beneficiary

 Ioanna Platanisioti,

Attorney at law, Athens Solidarity Center Legal Service* 

The examination of asylum applications in the second instance, carried out by the Committees of the Appeals Authority, has recently led to a multitude of rejection decisions. Applicants after the first rejection of their application for international protection by the Asylum Service, have the right to appeal against the rejection decision before the Appeals Authority, but the possibility for positive results is limited. That is why legal aid in the second instance of the asylum procedure is becoming more and more important and may be crucial for the outcome of the case.

Our Legal Team at the Athens Solidarity Center of SolidarityNow represented an asylum seeker from the Gambia, whose application for international protection had already been rejected at the first instance, at the second instance procedure and the examination of his appeal by the Appeals Authority. Our beneficiary had been persecuted in his country of origin because of his sexual orientation, both by the Gambian authorities and by non-state actors such as the society. More specifically, because of his sexual orientation, he was arrested, illegally detained, and tortured during his detention by the authorities, while he had received physical and verbal violence from people in the community where he used to live. After his arrival to Greece, he has been officially recognized as a victim of torture, following the legal procedure, and receiving the relevant certification.

In the first instance, the Asylum Service had rejected his application, because it was not convinced that he had been forced to flee his country because of his sexual orientation.

In the second instance, the judges examining his case found that the applicant’s allegation about his sexual orientation was credible, that he had been targeted, arrested and the subsequently assaulted by his social circle. Any ambiguities in his narrative, the Committee considered that were not of such gravity as to affect his credibility.

Thus, the Committee concluded that they should accept his appeal and grant him the status of a refugee, due to his participation in a special social group, as there is a reasonable possibility that his life, physical integrity, or freedom will be endangered due to his sexual orientation in his country of origin and the state cannot offer adequate and non-discriminatory police and judicial protection.

*Since May 2019 the Athens Solidarity Center is financed by EEA and Norway Grants, with HumanRights360 and CROWE Greece as the fund operator. The Center is also supported by the Municipality of Athens.