Equal Treatment Must Be Ensured for LGBT+ Asylum Seekers

The Estonian LGBT Association recently published a document outlining the policy recommendations of the Equality Action Plan for Estonian LGBT+ people for the year 2024. The chapter on LGBT+ individuals seeking international protection was authored by Uljana Ponomarjova, a refugee law attorney at the Estonian Human Rights Centre.

Excluding Ukrainians, the majority of asylum seekers in Estonia come from Russia. Reasons for leaving Russia and seeking international protection are mostly either political activism or belonging to the LGBT+ community, sometimes both.

“In recent years, several issues have arisen concerning the procedure quality and reception conditions for LGBT+ group members seeking international protection,” says Uljana Ponomarjova. “Since belonging to the LGBT+ community can be a basis for persecution in some countries and these applicants have often already experienced violence, bullying, and discrimination, it is essential, in our opinion, to develop a vulnerability assessment procedure to ensure their rights and reception conditions are secured.”

The Estonian Human Rights Centre is working to ensure that all those entitled have access to the asylum-seeking process. LGBT+ community members seeking asylum in Estonia must be guaranteed legal protection and equal opportunities throughout the procedure, similar to everyone else. There are several bottlenecks, ranging from health services tailored to their needs to low awareness among the officials they encounter.

Read the full document and policy recommendations for LGBT+ individuals needing international protection (see page 16).


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