VVD State Secretary Mark Harbers (Asylum) promised improvements to the implementation of the government's LGBTI asylum policy during a debate in the Lower House.
In July, Harbers scraped a number of faulty and stereotypical criteria from the LGBTI asylum policy after publication of a report by COC Netherlands. For example, the Immigration and Naturalisation Service of the Ministry of Justice and Security IND can no longer assume that LGBTIs always go through a 'process of awareness and self-acceptance'. Also, the IND should attach greater value to photos and statements of third parties, such as the partner of the asylum seeker.
COC research shows that the IND often does not implement this new policy. Especially in older cases, the organization is still regularly using stereotypical criteria, while putting aside third party statements.
In a letter to the Dutch Lower House, the COC urged the cabinet to ensure implementation of this new policy. The letter led to questions submitted to State Secretary Harbers by Members of Parliament Maarten Groothuizen (D66), Jasper van Dijk (SP) and Attje Kuiken (PvdA).
In response to those questions, Harbers states that he is ‘dead serious’ about the implementation of the new policy. According to the State Secretary, staff members of the IND will no longer ask asylum seekers about their 'processes of awareness and self-acceptance'. He expects 'month-to-month improvements,' and blamed the problems on ‘the introductory period of the new system in summer.'
With regard to older asylum cases, Harbers stated that, when the 'verdict' is based almost exclusively on the stereotypical criteria, it can be reassessed. The COC had insisted that all cases in which the stereotypical criteria were applied, should be reassessed. The State Secretary showed a willingness to take another look at some of these issues to check implementation improvements.
The COC continues to closely monitor the implementation of the new policy to see whether the situation has actually improved. Recently, LGBT Asylum Support has also requested a better implementation of the new LGBTI asylum policy.
The COC also made an appeal to the Dutch Lower House to file a protest against the proposed abolition of legal assistance for asylum seekers with the submission of their application for asylum. According to the COC, this legal assistance is essential, particularly for asylum seekers who, often out of fear or shame, do not tell their whole story to the IND, such as LGBTIs, converts, as well as people that are traumatised.
Questions on this subject were asked by D66, GroenLinks, PvdA, and SP. State Secretary Harbers stated that he would send a proposal to the House.