Norway’s Righteous Decision of upholding the LGBTQ rights along with refugee rights
Author: Shaurya Shukla, Chanakya National Law University, Patna.
Aftermath the impact of COVID-19, Norway has come forward with a commendable decision of prioritizing the people from the LGBTQ community. For the first time in history, refugees belonging to the LGBTQ community will be given priority both as a group and as an individual when transferring refugees are selected. A transfer refugee is a refugee who is getting transferred to a different country for permanent settlement. In nearly 70 countries homosexuality is a criminal offence and where it is decriminalized, people consider it as a taboo and due to this, people of LGBTQ community are subjected to harsh discrimination. Amid these, such decision of the Norwegian government is a quite an appreciable step. The deadly COVID-19 pandemic laid a drastic impact on the transferring of refugees. Transfer of refugees is stopped temporarily but the work will resume as soon as the situation becomes a bit normal.
The United National High Commissioner for Refugees promotes the application of transfer for the refugees and after coming of this decision, the LGBTQ people will be given priority while getting transferred to Norway. Unfortunately, in many countries, one is not free to love and this is the reason cited by the Norwegian government for taking such a step. Norway has a floating quota to welcome 3000 transfer refugees every year which means that if less than 3000 people are settled in a year then the number will keep on increasing in the years to follow. Through this blog, the author tries to explain the asylum system of Norway and give his standpoint on intermingling LGBTQ rights with refugee rights.
Asylum process of Norway
Asylum seekers need to follow a definite set of procedure for getting refuge in Norway. The process for getting asylum in Norway is as follows:-
Firstly, the asylum seekers need to go to a police station located on Christian Kroghsgt in Oslo, there they have to give their passport, identity documents, fingerprints and their travel route to the police officer for completing the identity process.
After the police registration process is completed, the refugees are sent to the reception centre in Oslo. Staff at the reception centre tells the refugees about their rights and duties at the reception centre.
After reaching the reception centre, asylum seekers have to undergo a mandatory tuberculosis test at the health outpost. Tests regarding other diseases like Hepatitis and HIV are voluntary but recommended.
NOAS is an organization that advocates for the rights of asylum seekers in Norway. NOAS’s role at the arrival reception centre is to provide information to asylum seekers. The information includes a film and an individual conversation with a NOAS staff member. This conversation will be in a language you understand.
Asylum seekers will be interviewed by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration(UDI). UDI is a state agency which determines whether or not you are entitled to a residence permit. The interview usually lasts between three and fives hours. There will be an interpreter during the interview. The interpreter is sworn to professional secrecy and may not inform others about any pronouncements or statements made during the interview
Living at the asylum reception centre is a free service for asylum seekers. One may choose to live privately. For instance, one may live with relatives or friends while one waits for the outcome of your case from UDI. One is not entitled to economic support if one chooses to live privately.
If UDI ascertains that one’s life and freedom is in danger in one’s home country because of one’s race, nationality, religion, membership of a special social group, one’s political endeavours or because of the security situation in one’s country, one will be granted asylum in Norway, but only on the condition that no one in one’s home country can protect him. One may be granted asylum on humanitarian grounds in instances where one of his children have a serious health condition. One may either return to one’s home country or lodge a complaint if one’s application is rejected
One has to return to his home country in the case one’s complaint is also rejected. One can voluntarily return to his home country through the International Organization for Migration or one may be sent back by the police.
Intermingling LGBTQ rights with refugee rights
People have to understand that sexual orientation is a kind of attachment one feels for another and it changes depending on the psyche of a person and no one should be compelled to remain in a sexual orientation decided at birth because it is like killing one’s self. Everyone should understand the meaning of pride and they should be proud of what they are. Everyone has a right to express themselves freely as guaranteed in article 19 of UDHR and this right should not be abridged from a person. Gender-based stereotypes should end as they compel an LGBTQ person to lead a socially and economically cloistered life.
This decision not only upholds the LGBTQ rights but also fulfils the international law obligations of Norway such as Article 6(1) of ICCPR (International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights) says that everyone has an inherent right to life and no person shall be deprived of that right. Article 7 of ICCPR forbids inhumane and degrading treatment of any human being. Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) provides that everyone has a right to enjoy asylum in other countries free from persecution. Article 23 of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees says that the contracting parties shall treat all the lawfully staying refugees of their territory with same accord and respect that they give to their citizens.
The author supports this righteous move of the Norwegian government as it not only aims at ending the ordeal of the refugees but it also puts forward a motion to end the anathema named as Homophobia. In such transfers, people from the LGBTQ community are one of most susceptible ones to get persecuted and this step up to some extent helps them to end their sufferings and encourage them to live their life peacefully.