France: National Court of Asylum recognises refugee status to Venezuelan applicant fleeing persecution on grounds of sexual orientation

Monday, April 23, 2018

On 23 April 2018, the French National Court of Asylum ruled in case no. 17052687, which concerned a Venezuelan national who had his asylum application rejected by the French administrative authorities in November 2017. The applicant fears being persecuted on grounds of his sexual orientation if returned to Venezuela.

Firstly, the National Court of Asylum noted that the recognition of refugee status for people fleeing persecution due to their sexual orientation does not depend on the public expression of the sexual orientation of the person concerned. Moreover, the asylum applicant cannot be required to conceal or show restraint in the expression of his or her sexual orientation in order to avoid the risk of persecution in the country of origin. While the existence of a criminal law specifically targeting homosexuals allows for the conclusion that homosexuals form a particular social group in that country, the lack of such legislation is not enough to establish that this group is not the subject of persecution on ground of their sexual orientation. Persecution can also take place through the application of general law being abusively applied against this group or through the behaviour of national authorities, as well as through behaviour encouraged or tolerated by the authorities.

Secondly, the National Court of Asylum ruled that even if there is, in Venezuela, a legislation formally prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, homosexuals are generally stigmatised by the society and are often victims of aggressions and general violence, including by the police. This is largely documented in reports from civil society organisations, such as the annual report on Venezuela by the Freedom House. Moreover, the Court took notice that the situation faced by the LGBTI population in Venezuela worsened with the current economic and political crisis, as same-sex couples are often excluded from the network of food distribution by the State and the LGBTI population is frequently the subject of defamation from the part of high-ranking national authorities, including the president.

Therefore, based on the applicant’s personal circumstances and the previous persecution he had faced, as well as up-to-date country of origin information on the situation of LGBTI people in Venezuela, the French National Court of Asylum quashed the administrative authorities’ decision and granted the applicant refugee status.

Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE. 



Actor of persecution or serious harm
Gender Based Persecution
Persecution (acts of)
Persecution Grounds/Reasons
Relevant Documentation
Sexual orientation