UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: A Critical Commentary
29 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2010 Last revised: 15 Jun 2021
Date Written: 2010
Egregious human rights violations have compelled some lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people to seek refuge in countries with better human rights protection. Whilst this movement of refugees essentially began in the early 1990s, it was only in 2008 that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) directly addressed the issue by releasing the ‘UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’. The most significant effect of the Guidance Note is that, with its release, UNHCR has recognized that sexual minorities have encountered a specific set of problems in having the refugee definition applied to their claims. This article argues that, while the Guidance Note provides a first and necessary interpretive road map for decision makers responsible for determining such claims, it should not be viewed as a full and complete analysis of refugee claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
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