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German authorities accused of revealing sexual orientation of LGBTQI asylum seekers

Lawyers working with the German Foreign Office have been accused of revealing the sexual identity of gay, lesbian and bisexual (LGBTQI) asylum seekers to authorities in their home countries.

The move exposes the LGBTQI asylum seekers to life threatening risks back home once deported.

The Lesbian and Gay Association of Germany (LSVD) described the German government’s move to reveal the sexual orientation of asylum seekers as “human rights abuse” and challenged it stop immediately, reported.

According to LSVD, the German authorities inadvertently revealed on many occasions the sexual orientation of asylum seekers.

How sexual orientation of LGBQTI asylum seekers was revealed

In a bid to check information available on the sexual identity of certain asylum seekers in several cases, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) sent a list of questions to the Federal Foreign Office which in turn commissioned lawyers to conduct this research using the network of the German embassies.

“This is how confidential information from the asylum procedure was passed on to people in the home countries. In many cases, this spells out the end of their social existence” in the asylum seekers’ home nations, LSVD board member Patrick Dörr told the epd news agency in Berlin.

By revealing the sexual orientation of asylum seekers, the German government not only exposed them to physical harm but also put them in awkward situations with their homophobic family members.

WELT reported that there were indeed several cases of gay, bisexual and lesbian asylum seekers who were outed during investigations in their countries of origin – by lawyers working for the Federal Foreign Office and acting on behalf of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).

The German daily reported that it had extensive documents showing that this happened to several asylum seekers from Nigeria, Cameroon, Tanzania and Pakistan. In these countries homosexuality can be punished with long prison terms while in Pakistan and some parts of Nigeria homosexual risk a death sentence.

“The federal government must live up to its responsibility; it cannot put these people at additional risk, but has to protect them,” LSVD said.

Case of a gay Nigerian asylum seeker

WELT gave the example of a gay Nigerian asylum seeker who was outed by a lawyer for the Federal Foreign Office. The asylum seeker had alleged that after being caught engaging in homosexual acts, he was kidnapped and abused.

The rejection notice he received in December 2019 stated that it was possible for him “to go into hiding in Abuja, Lagos, Benin City, Ibadan, Kano or Port Harcourt in order to avoid a possible threat”.

However the reality on the ground is different. In Kano where the Islamic Sharia is in force, stoning is prescribed for homosexuality.

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Germany spares lesbian asylum-seeker deportation

In 2023 the Court of Justice of the European Union had ruled against urging asylum seekers to hide their sexual orientation. Applicants for asylum cannot be reasonably expected to “conceal their homosexuality in their country of origin”, or “to exercise reserve in the expression of their sexual orientation”, the Court ruled.

This was confirmed in a ruling of the German Federal Constitutional Court in 2020. LSVD federal executive Patrick Dörr said: “It is unreasonable that people have to deny or hide their sexuality in order to be able to live in safety.”

The Nigerian gay asylum seeker who learnt through his family in August 2020 that a lawyer of trust in Nigeria had investigated his homosexuality, used this info to appeal against his removal order. In a remedial notice from April 2021, the BAMF overturned earlier notices and granted him refugee status.

The LSVD has appealed to the German government to apply the same decision to all the asylum seekers whose sexual orientation has been outed by lawyers of trust working for the Foreign Office.