The Istanbul Convention of 2011 is the most comprehensive legally binding human rights instrument for the prevention of gender-based violence, obliging signatory states to act. Although the Convention mentions sexual orientation and gender identity as inadmissible reasons for discrimination, violence experienced by lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex (LBTQI) women often go unrecognized in the asylum procedure.
The Queer European Asylum Network has published a Policy Report which calls on all EU member states that have ratified or signed the Istanbul Convention to protect lesbian, bisexual, queer, intersex and trans women as a particularly vulnerable group from gender-based violence.
A brief summary of the main key findings:
Lack of gender-sensitive reception and asylum procedures: The violence experienced by LBTQI women asylum claimants often remain invisible during the asylum process and is often not accounted for in the reception procedure.
Failure to implement the Non-Refoulement Principle in asylum cases lodged by queer women: A consequence of the failure to provide a gender and sexuality-sensitive asylum procedure risks violating the non-refoulment principle (the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution) because LBTQI asylum claimants will not be able to tell their stories, be identified as survivors of gender-based and sexual violence and obtain protection.
Failure to understand the intersectionality of different vulnerabilities: In theory, the Istanbul Convention captures the intersectionality of experiences of both women with migration or refugee background. In practice, however, there is a lack of a robust intersectionality approach to the IC in the queer asylum context.
Lack of judicial overlap of the Istanbul Convention and the EU-recast Directive (2011): In principle, the IC is a robust legal framework which frames gender very broadly – including LBTQI persons. However, in practice, the lack of an intersectional approach results in the protection of LBTQI women being either interpreted in terms of gender (under the Istanbul Convention) or their membership in a particular social group (under the Qualification Directive 2011/95/EU-recast).
The production of this report was supported by the Gunda Werner Institute and the University of Bristol.