Overcoming Problems with Sexual Minority Refugee Claims: is LGBT Cultural Competency Training the Solution?

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This academic article is relevant for humanitarian practitioners as it provides a clear articulation of the problems faced by people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity in seeking asylum and demonstrates how LGBT Cultural Competency Training can help address some of these challenges.

This academic article argues for the use of LGBT Cultural Competency Training in the refugee determination process to address the challenges faced by asylum seekers of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

The article firstly outlines the international legal framework concerning refugee determination as it relates to LGBT people. The author highlights that sexual orientation and gender identity are not listed as specific reasons for fearing persecution under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The author then describes in detail the many challenges faced by LGBT asylum seekers, including having to seek protection in “countries of first asylum” that are as hostile to LGBT people as their country of origin.

The article then considers the issue of homophobia and heterosexism among immigration officials and refugee adjudicators. A detailed list of the way in which heterosexism and homophobia may influence refugee claims is provided. The concept of LGBT Cultural Competency Training is then discussed and the three core elements: (1) Awareness and Attitudes, (2) Knowledge and (3) Skills are explained separately. The need to have “competency-appropriate trainers” with distinct skills in each of the three areas is then further explained. The article highlights the relevance of such training for all practitioners involved in the refugee determination system as the whole system must be sensitive to the needs of LGBT applicants. The article, however, concludes that such training has limited efficacy and cannot alone address all the needs of LGBT people in the refugee system.

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“If members of staff who interact with sexual minorities do not reflect on their own prejudices and assumptions about homosexuality and transexuality, they are unlikely going to be able to fairly assess asylum and resettlement claims.”

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This academic article argues for the use of LGBT Cultural Competency Training in the refugee determination process to address the challenges faced by asylum seekers of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

The article firstly outlines the international legal framework concerning refugee determination as it relates to LGBT people. The author highlights that sexual orientation and gender identity are not listed as specific reasons for fearing persecution under the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or the UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The author then describes in detail the many challenges faced by LGBT asylum seekers, including having to seek protection in “countries of first asylum” that are as hostile to LGBT people as their country of origin.

The article then considers the issue of homophobia and heterosexism among immigration officials and refugee adjudicators. A detailed list of the way in which heterosexism and homophobia may influence refugee claims is provided. The concept of LGBT Cultural Competency Training is then discussed and the three core elements: (1) Awareness and Attitudes, (2) Knowledge and (3) Skills are explained separately. The need to have “competency-appropriate trainers” with distinct skills in each of the three areas is then further explained. The article highlights the relevance of such training for all practitioners involved in the refugee determination system as the whole system must be sensitive to the needs of LGBT applicants. The article, however, concludes that such training has limited efficacy and cannot alone address all the needs of LGBT people in the refugee system.