European parliament calls for special protection of gay and trans asylum seekers

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The European parliament says that LGBT asylum seekers must be given special protection.

MEPs voted this week to adopt a series of measures, such as ensuring that physical examinations are respectful and providing expert advice to asylum officials.

Other measures include ensuring that LGBT people are not automatically fast-tracked for removal to their home country.

The measures concern a provision which considers certain characteristics as “special needs” when they may impact on an asylum seeker’s rights under the law – for example, elderly or disabled asylum seekers may require special protection.

MEPs approved an amendment to add “sexual orientation”, “gender identity” and “physical or mental illnesses”.

Sirpa Pietikäinen, a member of the centre-right European People’s Party and vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, said: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people fleeing countries such as Iraq, Uganda, Honduras or Indonesia must receive particular protection taking into account cultural sensitivity.

“This is a major step towards fully complying with our engagements under international asylum law.”

The new measures are the European parliament’s formal position on asylum.

Asylum rules will not be amended until EU governments agree the text.