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Showing posts from July, 2010

The 'Discreet Homosexual'

Many states offer asylum to people who claim that they are likely, if returned to their home country, to suffer persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation. As exhibited by recent events in Malawi and Uganda, many countries still view homosexual identity as anathema, and seek to criminalise even private, consensual adult expressions of affection between persons of the same sex. (Before rushing to condemn such states, it is worth recalling that it is less than 20 years since Ireland removed similar laws from its statute books.)

Happily, the Refugee Act 1996 expressly mentions 'sexual orientation' as one of the grounds on which a person may plead that they will be persecuted if returned to their country of origin. The Irish Act expressly defines "membership of a particular social group" as including membership of a trade union as well as "membership of a group of persons whose defining characteristic is their belonging to the female or the male sex or …