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Only danger to gay men in Algeria is from their own family, rules tribunal


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  1. Although the Algerian Criminal Code makes homosexual behaviour unlawful, the authorities do not seek to prosecute gay men and there is no real risk of prosecution, even when the authorities become aware of such behaviour. In the very few cases where there has been a prosecution for homosexual behaviour, there has been some other feature that has given rise to the prosecution. The state does not actively seek out gay men in order to take any form of action against them, either by means of prosecution or by subjecting gay men to other forms of persecutory ill-treatment.
  1. Sharia law is not applied against gay men in Algeria. The criminal law is entirely secular and discloses no manifestation, at all, of Sharia law in its application.
  1. The only risk of ill-treatment at a level to become persecution likely to be encountered by a gay man in Algeria is at the hands of his own family, after they have discovered that he is gay. There is no reliable evidence such as to establish that a gay man, identified as such, faces a real risk of persecutory ill-treatment from persons outside his own family.
  1. Where a gay man remains living with his family to whom he has disclosed his sexual orientation in circumstances where they are prepared to tolerate that, his decision to live discreetly and to conceal his homosexuality outside the family home is not taken to avoid persecution but to avoid shame or disrespect being brought upon his family. That means that he has chosen to live discreetly, not to avoid persecution but for reasons that do not give rise to a right to international protection. 
  1. Where a gay man has to flee his family home to avoid persecution from family members, in his place of relocation he will attract no real risk of persecution because, generally, he will not live openly as a gay man. As the evidence does not establish that he will face a real risk of persecution if subsequently suspected to be a gay man, his decision to live discreetly and to conceal his sexual orientation is driven by respect for social mores and a desire to avoid attracting disapproval of a type that falls well below the threshold of persecution. Quite apart from that, an Algerian man who has a settled preference for same sex relationships may well continue to entertain doubts as to his sexuality and not to regard himself as a gay man, in any event.
  1. For these reasons, a gay man from Algeria will be entitled to be recognised as a refugee only if he shows that, due to his personal circumstances, it would be unreasonable and unduly harsh to expect him to relocate within Algeria to avoid persecution from family members, or because he has a particular characteristics that might, unusually and contrary to what is generally to be expected, give rise to a risk of attracting disapproval at the highest level of the possible range of adverse responses from those seeking to express their disapproval of the fact of his sexual orientation.

Source: OO (Gay Men) (CG) [2016] UKUT 65 (IAC) (26 January 2016)

Interested in refugee law? You might like Colin's book, imaginatively called "Refugee Law" and published by Bristol University Press.

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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.