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New country guidance case on LGBT persecution in Sri Lanka


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New country guidance case from the Upper Tribunal on the risk of persecution in Sri Lanka for the LGBT community: LH and IP (gay men: risk) Sri Lanka CG [2015] UKUT 00073 (IAC). Official headnote:

(1) Having regard to the provisions of articles 365 and 365A of the Sri Lankan Penal Code, gay men in Sri Lanka constitute a particular social group.

(2) ‘Gay men in civil partnerships’ in Sri Lanka do not constitute a particular social group for the purposes of the Refugee Convention. The Sri Lankan authorities’ failure to recognise alternative marital and quasi-marital statuses such as civil partnership or homosexual marriage which are available in other countries of the world does not, without more, amount to a flagrant breach of core human rights.

(3) Applying the test set out by Lord Rodger in the Supreme Court judgment in HJ (Iran) & HT (Cameroon) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2010] UKSC 31, in general the treatment of gay men in Sri Lanka does not reach the standard of persecution or serious harm.

(4) There is a significant population of homosexuals and other LGBT individuals in Sri Lanka, in particular in Colombo.  While there is more risk for lesbian and bisexual women in rural areas, because of the control exercised by families on unmarried women, and for transgender individuals and sex workers in the cities, it will be a question of fact whether for a particular individual the risk reaches the international protection standard, and in particular, whether it extends beyond their home area.

(5) Where a risk of persecution or serious harm exists in an appellant’s home area, there may be an internal relocation option, particularly for individuals returning via Colombo from the United Kingdom.

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.