Pink report 2017: Seeking Asylum

In the fallowing period we will publish articles from our Annual Report on the State of Human Rights of LGBTI People in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Legal Framework

In the beginning of 2016, a new Law on Asylum was adopted in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite the advocacy of Sarajevo Open Centre and other civil society organizations, the adopted amendments to the Law on Asylum of BiH did not encompass sexual orientation and gender identity as possible reasons for persecution and they have not been explicitly recognised as grounds for asylum seeking. The amendments to the Law on Aliens also failed to recognise same-sex partnerships as a ground for temporary residence in BiH.

The Institution of the Human Rights Ombudsman issued recommendations to competent authorities relative to treatment of asylum seekers and aliens in their Special Report on the Rights of LGBTI People in BiH. It was recommended, among other things, that officers working on asylum and other related professions should be provided trainings and that LGBTI asylum seekers should be treated with respect and sensitivity and provided information in the course of the asylum procedure. The procedures need to be established which shall make possible for LGBTI asylum seekers to feel safe to speak about their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to remedy the social isolation and discrimination that LGBTI asylum seekers experience in asylum centres in an appropriate and systemic manner.

On the other hand, we see the constant increase in the number of persons from BiH seeking asylum in the European Union or the United States of America on the ground of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The reasons for asylum seeking include most often the psychological difficulties of living in a homophobic and transphobic environment, psychological and physical violence, employment discrimination and persecution due to sexual orientation and gender identity – i.e. the impossibility to enjoy basic human rights.


Documented Cases

In 2016, Sarajevo Open Centre received five inquiries regarding either information or assistance, and as of 2017, 7 inquires have already been received for assistance and provision of information to LGBTI persons in BiH in the process of claiming asylum in the EU and the United States of America.

Guidelines for Further Action

  • Amend the Asylum Law of BiH so as to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for asylum seeking and possible persecution reasons.
  • Recognise in the Law on Aliens same-sex partnerships i.e. family reunification as a ground for granting temporary residence to partners of BiH citizens.
  • Provide training to officers handling asylum so that LGBTI asylum seekers are treated with respect and sensitivity and provided information.