Press Statement – Monday 26th January 2021
The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) is appalled by yet another decision issued by the International Protection Office (IPO) in the Department of Justice which would lead to the deportation of an LGBTQ+ asylum seeker because the Irish State finds it implausible that a young gay man would have sex with another man in a country where the law and custom forbid it (see paragraph 9 here).
This is not the first irrational and bigoted decision to come from the IPO and is issued on behalf of the Minister in respect of an LGBTQ+ asylum seeker. We have long highlighted the bigoted nature of asylum decisions where LGBTQ+ people have the very essence of their humanity questioned by the State. Not so long ago a young gay man who was still in high school when he claimed asylum in Ireland had his asylum claim rejected because he was not part of an LGBTQ+ organisation. A bisexual woman was told that she did not seem bisexual and faced possible deportation. A lesbian woman is also facing possible deportation to Zimbabwe.
It is disgraceful of the Irish State to continue go down this path when domestic and international law requires Ireland to provide sanctuary to people who have fled such persecution. The point of departure from the IPO seems to be to look for reasons to refuse protection rather than grant it, even if it meant flaunting state-sponsored homophobia and racism. MASI calls on the Minister of Justice to review the protection interview process, asylum decisions, and reconsider the protection claims of the affected LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. It is a gross human rights violation to deprive a person of their right to international protection because bigotry is deeply rooted in the asylum process. It is the Department of Justice, and not the Department of Injustice, that is charged with vindicating the rights of vulnerable people who have come to Ireland seeking protection from persecution. The civil servants who make these decisions need to tender their resignations as they are clearly unfit to hold such a position of power where they make life and death decisions for asylum seekers. To refuse protection to a person because they do not go to the George Bar when placed in a Direct Provision centre in rural Ireland with €38.80 per week is simply disgusting. These civil servants have evidently thrown logic, law and compassion out the window to create more room for their unbounded bigotry.
Lastly, it is important to remember that asylum seekers are not provided with legal aid to challenge these decisions in court. An asylum seeker has 28 days to find a solicitor and barrister who are willing to act on a no win no fee basis or else pay them their professional fees to initiate judicial review proceedings which are unaffordable for asylum seekers earning €38.80 per week. This situation leaves asylum seekers at the mercy of cruel bigoted civil servants who make these decisions on behalf of the Minister. In any other area of law, you would have much longer than 28 days to initiate judicial review proceedings. Thus migrants are not equal before the law in Ireland. This situation demands legislative change. Leaving this at the discretion of the courts to consider granting an extension has left many asylum seekers and migrants facing deportation with decisions that should not have been made.
About MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland is a grassroots organisation based in Ireland. We are people who are or have been in the asylum and direct provision system in Ireland, working and advocating together for justice, freedom and dignity for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Our focus is on the Right to Education and the Right to Work for all people seeking asylum, on the complete abolition of direct provision and an end to deportations.
Media Enquiries: Bulelani Mfaco – +353 89 474 2911