I've just returned from the conference that launched the publication "Fleeing Homophobia: Seeking Safety in Europe". The conference marked the end of a very interesting EU-funded project that conducted EU-wide research into the manner EU MS treat LGBTI asylum applicants, for which we were the Malta National Rapporteur.
All project details, including the report and conference papers, are available on the conference site (linked above), but it is useful for us to highlight a number of issues relevant to EASO.
EASO is specifically mentioned in the report, and throughout the conference extensive reference was made to the Office. In what way? Essentially, EASO kept cropping up whenever the conference participants discussed the way ahead, the strategy we should be adopting to ensure dissemination of the best practices highlighted in the report. In this respect, EASO featured in the following ways:
- In overseeing the gathering of Country of Origin Information (COI), the report urges EASO to ensure that all COI gathered and used by asylum authorities across the EU provides updated, accurate and inclusive information about the situation of LGBTI groups in the relevant countries. Core issues that we highlighted include the presence and use of laws (criminal or otherwise) on homosexual activity, attitude and behaviour of state authorities especially the police, reasonableness of applying the internal flight alternative and persecution by non-state actors. The report further highlighted the general invisibility of lesbians, reflected in their absence from mainstream COI reports, recommending EASO to ensure appropriate coverage of all groups;
- EASO's role in encouraging and disseminating best practices is also key to ensuring a high level of correct implementation of the Directives, and of the 1951 Convention. The best practices highlighted in the report should be discovered and promoted across the EU, and in this respect the conference stressed the importance of strategic training activities directed at asylum authorities, lawyers and other relevant stakeholders. The Asylum Curriculum featured prominently in these discussions, since EASO will be playing a key role in its formulation and dissemination.
We are glad to have participated in this project, as the wealth of knowledge and experience it gathered was inspiring and extremely valuable. Well done and thanks to the project partners and national researchers for this excellent experience.