Gay activist now recognized as a refugee after all

JFor years Abdelkarim Bendjeriou-Sedjerari lived with the fear of being deported from Germany and went to court against the rejection of his asylum application. As a homosexual, he had to fear persecution in his home country of Algeria, he gave as a reason. After a new hearing at the Federal Office for Refugees and Migration (BAMF) Bendjeriou-Sedjerari can not only stay in Germany, he is also recognized as a refugee, as was announced on Friday.

Most recently, the Algerian failed before the Frankfurt Administrative Court last August. It was said at the time that he could avoid persecution if he lived discreetly and inconspicuously. The fact that Bendjeriou-Sedjerari not only lives openly gay in Germany, but also acts as a queer activist for LGBTQ refugees, was not taken into account. “I want to be able to live without fear,” said Bendjeriou-Sedjerari, who speaks fluent German and has completed training as an electrician, in court. In Algeria he had to fear for his life.

The new BAMF decision was made with a view to an instruction from the Federal Ministry of the Interior: Since October 2022, decision-makers when examining the risk of queer refugees in their countries of origin should always assume that sexual orientation or gender identity is lived openly. “No one should feel forced to lead a dangerous double life,” said Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) said at the time. The reference to the possibility of a discreet life was no longer permissible.

“Something has really changed since October 1st. You have to commend the BAMF for that,” said Knud Wechterstein, coordinator for queer refugees at the Aids-Hilfe Frankfurt. This does not only apply to the case of Bendjeriou-Sedjerari. Also queer refugees He is aware of people from Ethiopia, Guinea, Jamaica, Iran and Morocco who have received a positive BAMF decision after a new hearing.

Instructions from the Federal Ministry of the Interior

“The now positive decision is the direct result of a paradigm shift long demanded by the LSVD to finally abolish the so-called ‘discretion forecasts’, which violate European law,” said Patrick Dörr from the federal board of the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) in a statement published on Friday. “The fact that the BAMF is now also reviewing negative asylum decisions made before October 2022 based on the new requirements is an important positive sign for us.”

The Frankfurt member of the Bundestag Kaweh Mansoori (SPD) praised the decision. “I am very happy for Mr. Bendjeriou-Sedjerari. He can continue to do his work here and overcome the constant insecurity.” According to Mansoori, when the case of Bendjeriou-Sedjerari became known, Mansoori approached the Federal Minister of the Interior and, together with the Lesbian and Gay Association Germany (LSVD) and the Aidshilfe, had drawn attention to the “ Discretion requirement” drawn attention to. “Advising people not to express their sexuality was inhuman,” he said.

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