In many parts of the world, individuals experience serious human rights abuses and other forms of
persecution due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. While persecution of
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (hereafter “LGBTI”)1 individuals and those perceived to
be LGBTI is not a new phenomenon,2 there is greater awareness in many countries of asylum that people
fleeing persecution for reasons of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity can qualify as refugees
under Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and/or its 1967 Protocol
(hereafter the “1951 Convention”).3 Nevertheless, the application of the refugee definition remains
inconsistent in this area.
It is widely documented that LGBTI individuals are the targets of killings, sexual and gender-based
violence, physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, accusations of immoral or deviant behaviour, denial
of the rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and
education in all regions around the world.4 Many countries maintain severe criminal laws for consensual
same-sex relations, a number of which stipulate imprisonment, corporal punishment and/or the death
penalty.5 In these and other countries, the authorities may not be willing or able to protect individuals from
abuse and persecution by non-State actors, resulting in impunity for perpetrators and implicit, if not explicit,
tolerance of such abuse and persecution.