All Countries Morocco

2020 RLLR 152

Citation: 2020 RLLR 152
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: October 27, 2020
Panel: Carolyn Rumsey
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Laura Setzer
Country: Morocco
RPD Number: MC0-02209
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-00210
ATIP Pages: 000090-000094


[1]       MEMBER: So, this is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division in the claim for refugee protection of the claimant XXXX XXXX (ph) and legal name is XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX.

[2]       So, you are a citizen of Morocco and you are making a refugee claim pursuant to s. 96 and subsection 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[3]       So, because of the nature of your claim, I have considered our Chairperson’s Guidelines on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

[4]       For the reasons that follow, I find that you have established that there is a well-founded fear of persecution for yourself in Morocco, and this is based on your sexual orientation and your gender identity, and I find that you are a Convention refugee pursuant to s. 96 of the IRPA, of the Act.

[5]       As we discussed at the beginning of the hearing, your detailed allegations are contained in your Basis of Claim form. You allege that you fear that you will be harmed or killed due to your identity as a transgender woman in Morocco, but you also mention your sexual orientation as being pansexual, and I’ve also considered this as part of your claim.

[6]       So, in terms of your identity, your personal and national identities as a citizen of Morocco are established on a balance of probabilities by your testimony but also by your documentary evidence that you have on file, and in particular, a copy of your Moroccan passport.

[7]       I had to analyze your credibility and whether I (audio cuts out) what you told me today, whether I believed what was in your narrative and in your supporting documents, and I found you to be very credible.

[8]       You spoke about your experiences in Morocco, about your experiences coming out to friends that you had in Morocco in person, but also to a community of people that you met online. And you talked about your experiences also coming out to your family and how that was more of a negative experience than coming out to your friends.

[9]       And when you spoke about your reason for choosing your name, the name that you now use to refer to yourself, I found that very compelling. You gave an explanation of why you chose your first name and your last name and the importance that it held for you and how you felt since using that name.

[10]     You also talked about your experience in Ottawa when you first came here and how you suffered from XXXXandXXXX XXXX and how this led you to seek help, to seek help from the healthcare system, and how you have been following hormone therapy and you have been moving towards a transaction, and how your feelings before this were very negative and that now you feel much more comfortable in your body. And there was something in your narrative that really stuck out for me as well. You wrote in your narrative that now strangers refer to you as female and that that has — that makes you feel very good inside. So, I found that very compelling and very moving, too.

[11]     I found that there were no contradictions or omissions or inconsistencies in your testimony. You gave very detailed responses and you testified spontaneously.

[12]     You also (audio cuts out) documents to support your story. So, you submitted a letter from your doctor, the doctor that you referred to today who prescribed you the medication that you are taking, the hormone therapy. You provided a letter from your partner, XXXX (ph), who has also acted as your support person today. You also provided a copy of your joint lease for your apartment with XXXX, your partner, and other roommates here in Ottawa. And then finally, you included a number of photographs, and these are photographs of yourself before your transition, photographs of yourself now, and photographs with your partner, XXXX, as well.

[13]     So, given your credible testimony and the documents that you have submitted and the fact that your testimony was consistent with your narrative and your port of entry forms, I find that on a balance of probabilities you have established the truth in your allegations and I believe what you have said today and in your narrative.

[14]     So, I just have to talk about the objective evidence. So, we have a National Documentation Package for Morocco and there is a section that is dedicated specifically to LGBT issues, or we call them SOGIE issues, sexual orientation, gender identity, (audio cuts out) expression issues. So, I find that this documentary evidence on the situation for LGBT persons in Morocco is very clear. The most stark point is the legislation against being a member of the LGBT community.

[15]     So, the Moroccan government deems lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender orientation or identity to be illegal. And this is document 6.1 in the NDP that I’m referring to right now. It also mentions that society does not look kindly upon gay and lesbian relationships, considering them to be prohibited by Islam. And this echoes, of course, what you were saying about your relationship with religion and the way that LGBT community is perceived in Morocco. The same report talks about social violence, harassment, and blackmail based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and it also says that, specifically to the gender identity, people who feel that they belong to a gender other than their official gender do not openly discuss their situation for fear of being banished by society.

[16]     The next report in the package is 6.2. It talks about the family response to someone coming out as having a sexual orientation or gender identity that is kind of outside of the norm. They mention mob attacks, forced heterosexual marriage, confinement or eviction from family homes, psychological abuse. And the same report even mentions that even the authorities in Morocco are known to intimidate LGBTI activists. And it also says that there’s a general social hostility and this is legitimized by public officials and by the rhetoric that is anti-LGBTQ and also pervasive kind of negative medica coverage on those issues.

[17]     More specifically to transgender people, the same report indicates that they are viewed as being mentally ill and that there is a complete lack of legal gender recognition and that this restricts their access to services, so things like healthcare services and stuff like that.

[18]     There is even — there is a quote in that report that I found particularly striking and it quotes the Human Rights Minister in Morocco in 2017 as saying that (as said), “In Morocco, we have to stop talking about homosexuals because we give them value when we talk about them.” And then he said, “They are trash.” So, even coming from the government there is this anti-LGBT rhetoric, and of course, because issues concerning LGBT activities are considered illegal, that is not terrible surprising.

[19]     This report also mentions that there is a national human rights council in Morocco but that it does not address LGBTQ issues. And even more so, Morocco in Human Rights Council meetings of the UN, Morocco has voted against the adaption of resolutions that support LGBTQ issues and rights.

[20]     So, based on all of that information, I find the country condition evidence is overwhelming regarding LGBTQ persons in Morocco. And so, I find that on a balance of probabilities there is an objective basis for your fear in Morocco for that reason.

[21]     So, I had to look at two other things.

[22]     The first is state protection. So, I have to look at whether the authorities could protect you in Morocco. And given the items in the package that mention authorities’ attitudes towards LGBTQ persons and the fact LGBTQ activity is considered illegal, I find that the authorities are an agent of persecution in your case and therefore that on a balance of probabilities adequate state protection would not be available to you if you were to return to Morocco.

[23]     Finally, I also have to consider whether you could go to another part of your country and be safe there. So, that’s called internal flight alternative. Again, because — I find — because the laws that prohibit LGBTQ activity are enforced throughout Morocco and the information to me is clear that these attitudes are pervasive throughout the country, this leads me to conclude that there is nowhere that you could be safe in Morocco. So, you have a serious possibility of persecution throughout the country and therefore there is no internal flight alternative available to you.

[24]     So, to conclude, based on all of this evidence, I find that you would face a serious possibility of persecution on the basis of your particular social group as a transgender woman and as a pansexual person if you were to return to Morocco. So therefore, I find that you are a Convention refugee, and I am accepting your refugee claim under s. 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

[25]     COUNSEL: Thanks very much.

[26]     MEMBER: So, I just want to say thank you to XXXX XXXX XXXX. I — I really appreciate your willingness to do this in a virtual way in particular given the difficulties that we’re facing this year in 2020. So, thank you for that. Thank you for your testimony as well. I know it’s not an easy thing to do, to -­ especially to talk about these kinds of sensitive issues with a stranger, so I really appreciate that very much.

[27]     I want to say thank you to your partner, XXXX, as well for being support today this morning.

[28]     And thank you, Counsel, as well for your support.

[29]     COUNSEL: Thank you.

[30]     MEMBER: So, just one last thing to — to let you know is that if you change your mailing address, if you decide to move, just let the Board know, just keep your address updated because the decision I just read out to you, you will receive a written copy of that decision in the mail and we don’t want you to miss that.

[31]       So, congratulations and I wish you all the best. Take good care of yourself.

[32]       COUNSEL: Thanks very much.

[33]       MEMBER: Thank you. Bye-bye.

[34]       COUNSEL: Bye-bye.

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