Citation: 2019 RLLR 131
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: September 9, 2019
Panel: M. Schnapp, P. Gueller, D. Willard
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Pablo Andres Irribarra Valdes
RPD Number: TB8-18513
ATIP Number: A-2021-00256
ATIP Pages: 000077-000081
 MEMBER: Okay, we are back on the record, counsel I am not going to need any questioning or submissions from you, so I am going to read my decision, just to let you know we have accepted your claim and I am just going to read the decision.
 This is the decision in the claim for refugee protection of [XXX] File Number TB8-18513, you are claiming to be a citizen of the Bahamas and are claiming refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
 The panel has considered your testimony and the other evidence in this case and we are ready to render our decision orally. In assessing your claim, the panel has applied the Chairpersons guidelines, Guideline 9 on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression called the SOGI Guidelines.
 The panel finds that you are a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of IRPA on the grounds of your membership in a particular social group as a gay man. The panel finds that you would face a serious possibility of persecution in the future if returned to the Bahamas. The panel is accepting your claim.
 Your allegations are set out in detail in your Basis of Claim Form. In summary, you allege a fear of pervasive discrimination including possible acts of violence from the community because of your sexual orientation as a gay man and also due to the community’s perception of you as a gay man.
 You allege that if you return to the Bahamas, you will face stigma, social exclusion discrimination in many aspects of your life and from the community and this would include verbal insults and possible physical violence and that you cannot live openly and freely as a gay man in the Bahamas, without experiencing this kind of harassment, threats and discrimination and there is no safe place for you to live in your country.
 In making this assessment, the panel considered all the evidence including oral testimony and documentary evidence entered as Exhibits.
 The panel finds that your personal and national identity as a citizen of Bahamas has been established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony and the supporting documentation filed in Exhibits 1 and Exhibits 4, in particular the certified copy of your passport which was seized by CBSA when you started your refugee claim.
 The panel finds that there is a link between what you fear on the refugee Convention grounds namely your membership in a particular social group as a gay man and someone who was perceived by the community and family members as being a gay man.
 Therefore your claim falls under Section 96. In terms of your general credibility, the panel finds you to be a credible witness.
 The testimony was straightforward and consistent with your Basis of Claim Form and other forms and there were no significant inconsistencies or omissions that went to the core of your claim.
 You provided spontaneous details of you coming to understand and coming to accept your sexual orientation of being a gay man. You also provided details of the discriminatory and threatening incidents that you experience in the Bahamas. These were details that you would expect of someone who lived the experience as described.
 You provided corroborating documentation including letters from multiple friends who know of your sexual orientation and knew of the negative treatment you experienced in the Bahamas as a result of being a gay man, screenshots and messages being circulated on social media which exposed your sexual orientation and your counsel’s request for police records to the Royal Bahamas Police Force dated August 14th, 2018, Your identity as an HIV positive individual that has been established on the panel’s view on the balance of probabilities by your oral testimony and corroborating medical documentation that was filed as corroborating evidence.
 For someone who is grown up in the society where being on the LGBT spectrum is treated with contempt, ridicule by many as an abomination, the panel finds your testimony to be credible.
 You testified without any obvious embellishments and in a fluid immediate way. Therefore the panel believes your core allegations of your refugee claim and your oral testimony and your Basis of Claim Form on a balance of probabilities.
 The panel believes that you are a gay and due to homophobia in the Bahamas you struggled with this, and cannot lead a free and safe and open life in the Bahamas and that you face a serious possibility of persecution in the future in the Bahamas.
 With respect to your subjective fear and in particular reavailment and delay in making a claim, you have established that you are subjectively fearful of returning to the Bahamas, therefore the panel finds you have a subjective fear of persecution in the Bahamas.
 With respect to the two trips to the United States in 2016 and 2017, you explained that you accompanied your family members, including your mother and that you had not realized at that point that you were able to make an asylum claim in the United States based on sexual orientation.
 With respect to you only claiming refugee status after approximately one month in Canada, your BOC indicated that you were concerned that you did so at the airport, you may be send back to the Bahamas and you needed time to find a lawyer to assist you with the process.
 Therefore the panel accepts your explanations as reasonable and finds that this does not detract in any significant way from you holding a subjected well-founded fear that is forward-looking today and the fear of persecution would exist in the Bahamas.
OBJECTIVE BASIS OF RISK, PERSECUTION:
 The panel finds that you have an objective basis for your fear because of the documented conditions for the Bahamas as per evidence in Exhibit 3 which is the National Documentation Package for Bahamas.
 It states that based on the evidence in this package, that the claimant has his stated experience and instances of abuse for his sexual orientation in the Bahamas from strangers and homophobic attitudes you have experienced and from family members which is made out in the documentary evidence as well that this is an objective country reports in the situation of the Bahamas.
 You described having to conceal your sexual orientation. Exhibit 3 of the NDP documents that LGBT people in the Bahamas are generally afraid to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. They fear if they are open about their sexual orientation they will be subject to ostracism, exclusion, ridicule and possibly violence.
 Physical and psychological violence is typically directed to LGBT persons who lived openly in the Bahamas and LGBT persons have been subjected to violence including killings and physical attacks.
 There are also reports of discrimination in various sectors such as employment and housing in Items 2.1, 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 of the NDP package.
 Given that the panel finds the claimant credible as a gay man, we find that you will not be able to live freely and openly in the Bahamas without risk of experiencing the above noted harms.
 Further Mr. [XXX] has the additional vulnerability of being an HIV positive man and the NDP speaks of discrimination and some abuse against persons who are HIV positive.
 Item 2.1 which is the United States Human Rights Report, Department of State Report notes that children in Bahamas who are HIV positive face discrimination with authorities often and they often don’t tell teachers the child was HIV positive due to the fear of verbal abuse from both educators and peers.
 Item 5.3 also speaks of discrimination and violence against people of HIV status and Item 6.1 is response to information request throughout the Bahamas which stated that LGBT groups in Bahamas who support people living with HIV have a difficulty getting international funding as it is supposed to be for their programs <inaudible> government does not want to be seen as supporting gay health initiatives.
 This panel finds that as a person as a gay man living with HIV you would be even at heightened risk of discrimination and you may be harassed if you sought medical treatment for your condition.
STATE PROTECTION AND INTERNAL FLIGHT ALTERNATIVE:
 The panel finds that there is a clear and convincing evidence that State protection would not be reasonably forthcoming in your case as per the evidence in Exhibit 3 of the National Documentation Package.
 The NDP indicates that discrimination against LGBTQ members in the Bahamas is common place and the crimes against members of that community are rarely if ever resolved satisfactory.
 Police do not take reporting of anti-LGBTQ crimes seriously, Item 6.1, 6.2 and 6.3 reports that LGBT people often experience difficulties if they turn to the police for protection and the Bahamas because they share strong anti-gay attitudes with the rest of the British Caribbean. The police smirk, ridicule and insult LGBT people if they are open about their sexual orientation.
 So, based on the above the panel finds there is clear and convincing evidence that there is no adequate State protection for you in the Bahamas.
 Lastly, the panel has considered whether there is a viable internal flight alternative available for you and on the evidence before us we find risk of physical harm and homophobic attitudes exist throughout the Bahamas.
 So, there is a possibility of persecution throughout the country, therefore the panel finds there is no viable internal flight alternative available to you.
 So, based on the totality of the evidence, the panel concludes that you are a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Act, and we therefore accept your claim, thank you.
 COUNSEL: Thank you.
———- REASONS CONCLUDED ———-