Bisexual Jamaican man granted refugee protection in Canada

 By Sukhram   Ramkissoon  

Sukhram Ramkissoon

A 33-year-old male from Jamaica was recently granted refugee protection status in Canada as he established that he faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Jamaica. His claim was heard in April 2022 and accepted earlier this month by the Refugee Protection Division (RPD) of the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) who determined that he is a Convention Refugee under Canadian Immigration laws.

For the purposes of this article, the claimant asked me to refer to him as “George” and has given permission to write about his circumstances. George was represented by me and during his virtual hearing in April he testified that he is single with no dependents. He claimed that he was bisexual, and the panel found that given his bisexual identity, his prospective nexus to the Convention ground is that of a member of a particular social group and his claim was assessed on that sole ground.

George testified that he discovered his homosexuality at the age of 13, spoke of his first and second same-sex partner – a relationship which he kept secret from his family – and the reasons why he left Jamaica.   He testified that he identifies as a bi-sexual man.  He fears persecution if he returns to Jamaica; he feared he would be killed.

He arrived in Canada in late 2010 and eventually went out of status. He filed a claim for refugee protection in March 2021. The reasons for this lengthy delay were that George kept his identity secret and did not want family members to know about his sexual identity.  

The panel ruled that taken together, it determined that George’s delay before making his claim for protection was reasonably explained, and his explanation is not enough to overturn his presumption of truth and subjective fear.

Overall, the panel found George to be a credible and trustworthy witness, his evidence was forthcoming, spontaneous, and consistent with the material evidence on file. The panel found that he made no attempt to mislead the panel and the panel accepted his allegations on balance of probabilities, he had established his subjective fear.

Given that George had established his profile as a bisexual man, the panel turned to the evidence to establish whether his claim had an objective basis. The country condition reports in the Immigration and Refugee Board’s National Documentation Package (NDP) for Jamaica dated May 2022 support George’s allegations that bisexual men are at heightened risk of violence in Jamaica because of their sexual orientation.

The panel in its reasons stated that certain items in the NDP highlighted that discrimination and prejudice against the LGBT community and it remains prevalent throughout Jamaican society, and this is reflected at the official level. Those who are suspected of being bi-sexual are subject to increased risk of harassment and violence. There is no comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBT) persons.

Sexual activity within the LGBT community is criminalized, and the law forbids consensual same-sex conduct throughout Jamaica. As a result, members of the LGBT community are often victims of harassment, discrimination and violence. The RPD Panel found that George’s subjective fear has an objective basis and is well founded.

On the issue of State Protection, the Panel found that the NDP package states that police protection against violence for LGBT persons is often not forthcoming. The panel also found that there is clear and convincing evidence that the state is unable or unwilling to provide George with protection in Jamaica.

On the issue of Internal Flight Alternative – the Panel found that based on the evidence, it established that persecution and discrimination against the LGBT community in Jamaica persist at all levels of society, and there is no safety for him in any part of Jamaica.

In conclusion, the Panel found that on the totality of the evidence the panel determined that George faces a serious possibility of persecution throughout Jamaica and found that he is a Convention Refugee and accepted his claim for protection in Canada.

Good luck George.

SUKHRAM   RAMKISSOON   is a member of the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants and specializes in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario, Phone 416 789 5756.