A U.K. court has ruled that simply being a gay or lesbian Zimbabwean is not sufficient reason to be granted asylum.
It said that “there is no general risk to gays or lesbians” although “personal circumstances place some gays and lesbians at risk”.
The ruling of the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber dealt with an appeal application for asylum by a woman known only as LZ. She had earlier been refused asylum by the U.K.’s Home Office.
The court gave a number of reasons for why gay and lesbian asylum seekers should not be given asylum in the U.K, unless there were other unique circumstances.
It admitted that there was “much public expression of extreme homophobia at the highest levels in recent years” and that male homosexuality was illegal.
Judges Holmes and Mclean, said, however that “prosecutions are very rare” and that “lesbianism is not criminalised”.
The judges made use of a submission by Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) which said that Zimbabwe is “not the worst place in the world to be gay or lesbian even though the President, government officials and church leaders have whipped up a climate of hysterical homophobia”.
The ruling, which was published last month, went on to add: “There are no records of any murders with a homophobic element. ‘Corrective rape’ is rare, and does not represent a general risk.”
The court furthermore concluded that “a homosexual at risk in his or her community can move elsewhere, either in the same city or to another part of the country”.
Despite this, the court noted that in her particular case LZ had “unique circumstances,” which it did not include in its report to avoid revealing her identity. On the basis of these unique facts, it ultimately backed her appeal.