279. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Justice if Ireland will grant asylum to gay persons forced to flee persecution and possible death given the rise in the persecution of gay persons in Russia and other former Soviet states. [37449/20]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): There is a statutory framework governing the international protection process in Ireland, which includes refugee status determination (under the UN Geneva Convention) and subsidiary protection (under EU law). This process is set out in the International Protection Act 2015. Under the Act, each application is assessed individually and takes into account both subjective elements (the applicant’s own account or personal history) and objective elements (up-to-date information on the applicant’s country or place of origin, including the laws relating to, and societal treatment, of individuals who identify as LGBTI).
In relation to refugee status, there also must be a link between the persecution as alleged and one or more of the grounds set out in both the 2015 Act and the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the status of refugees, namely, being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
An application for international protection cannot be made from outside the State. The person must present at the border or already be in the State when making their claim.
Ireland follows the guidance of the UNHCR in relation to claims for international protection based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and was one of the first countries to specifically bring sexual orientation within the ambit of a ‘particular social group’ under the legislation that was in force prior to the 2015 Act. Training for International Protection Office (IPO) caseworkers and interviewers is very comprehensive and is conducted in conjunction with the UNHCR. The training includes a module in relation to interview techniques and how interviews are conducted.
The IPO has incorporated the Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm (DSSH) model into training for caseworkers. The model is designed to help the applicant provide a detailed narrative and to be a sensitive and appropriate way of assessing credibility in sexual orientation/gender identity (SOGI) claims. In addition, further written guidance on assessing SOGI claims has been provided to all staff and panel members.