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LGBTQ+ refugees in Iceland

Iceland is known to be one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world. Yet, that privilege is not always extended to the refugees who leave home to escape persecution due to their sexuality. There have been cases in Iceland where asylum seekers were denied refuge when they applied based on their sexuality.⁣

Iceland is not a member of the EU; hence, its refugee laws are not binding for the country. However, due to close economic and regional ties, Iceland has accepted most asylum accords. Qualifying directives of the EU consider the risk of assault and discrimination due to sexuality to be proper grounds for an asylum application. Despite agreeing to this, reality in Iceland is quite different.⁣

In August 2022, an LGBTQ refugee from Venezuela, Beatriz Moreno, claimed that the Icelandic government did not give her asylum despite the threat of persecution in her country. She came to Iceland with her wife, hoping to get asylum so they could start a family there. However, despite informing the authorities of her sexuality, the immigration service rejected their application.⁣

This is not an isolated incident in Iceland. When a human rights lawyer claimed that his client was not given asylum based on their sexuality and was accused of lying, Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson, said asylum seekers lie about their sexuality and come to Iceland for “more money and a better life.” This comment has been criticised severely, but it shows the authority’s attitude towards LGBTQ+ refugees.⁣

Despite multiple legislations afforded to them, LGBTQ+ refugees always face terrible hardship in proving their asylum claim. The UN has banned explicit questioning for them, yet the rule is hardly followed anywhere. On top of that, such dismissal by authority figures makes the process of asylum application difficult process for them. For a country known for its gay rights, Iceland must also do justice to the refugees.⁣

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