Spain Plans to Offer Asylum to ‘Sexual Refugees’

David Rennie, Telegraph (London), Jan. 3, 2006

Spain is planning to give refugee status to those fleeing persecution on grounds of gender or sexual orientation in a revision of its asylum laws.

The draft law on asylum, leaked to the newspaper El Pais, would allow women facing severe persecution linked to sex discrimination to claim protection under the 1951 Geneva convention.

It would extend the same rights to homosexuals who faced serious discrimination, such as the death penalty or other severe punishment for homosexual acts, the newspaper said.

Such an overhaul would give Spain one of the most generous asylum regimes in the world.

The leaked draft said it would also become harder under the new law to reject an application on subjective grounds, such as a suspicion that an applicant was lying.

Immigration officials would be encouraged to make judgments on “strictly objective” examinations of the facts.

The new law is intended to address concerns about asylum policy raised during riots at the frontier fences separating Morocco from Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

During those disturbances, when large numbers of sub-Saharan Africans tried to scale security fences and enter the enclaves, at least 70 migrants were allegedly deported arbitrarily back to Morocco, where some were then driven into the desert and dumped.

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