France: Series of decisions on asylum claims related to sexual orientation
On 8 February 2017 the French Council of State published an analysis regarding asylum cases related to sexual orientation. The analysis issued by the Council of State focuses on matters of particular jurisprudential relevance and elucidate on the legal reasoning behind a series of cases raising similar legal questions. In line with the CJEU’s ruling in X, Y and Z and A, B and C, the Council of State reaffirms its understanding that: (a) homosexuality can constitute a particular social group depending on national circumstances, notably by the regard of institutions and the society at large; (b) persecution is not limited to the public manifestation of one’s sexual orientation; (c) it is forbidden to expect an applicant to be discrete in the expression of his/her sexual orientation; (d) persecution can take place without criminal provisions against homosexuality, such as when common provisions are applied abusively against homosexuals or when authorities engage, encourage or tolerate persecutory acts; (d) applicants cannot be expected to prove their sexuality in advance and the assessment of credibility must be based on the documentation and personal story of the applicant.
On that same day, the Council of State ruled on four asylum cases related to sexual orientation. Besides recalling the line of interpretation above, the cases also provided further clarification on the assessment of asylum claims related to sexual orientation. In case no. 379378, the Council ruled that not having revealed his sexual orientation to others beyond his family circle does not imply that the applicant would not suffer persecution for his sexual orientation, since homosexuals are exposed to discrimination and violence in the West Bank and cannot count on the protection of public authorities. In cases no. 397745, no. 395821 and no. 396695, the Council rejected the applicants’ requests for annulment and concurred with the national court that neither the declarations nor the documents submitted by the applicants substantiated their fear of being persecuted due to their sexual orientation in Guinea, #Bangladesh and Ivory Coast, respectively.