Citation: 2021 RLLR 72
Tribunal: Refugee Protection Division
Date of Decision: April 30, 2021
Panel: David Jones
Counsel for the Claimant(s): Robert William W Young
Country: Moldova and Romania
RPD Number: VC1-01442
Associated RPD Number(s): N/A
ATIP Number: A-2022-01594
ATIP Pages: N/A
 MEMBER: So, this is the decision of the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada for the claim of XXXX XXXX, who is a citizen of Moldova and Romania, seeking refugee protection pursuant to Sections 96 and 97(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
 I have also reviewed and applied both the Chairperson’s Guideline on Proceedings Before the IRB Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender, Identity and Expression, and the Chairperson’s Guideline on Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution.
 The claimant fears persecution due to her sexual orientation as a lesbian if she was to return to Moldova or live in Romania. Details of the claimant’s allegations can be found in her Basis of Claim form and attached narrative. The following is a brief overview of her allegations and testimony.
 The claimant is a citizen of both Moldova and Romania. The claimant lived in Moldova and has only visited Romania a few times. Around 2012, while in high school, the claimant started to identify to herself as a lesbian. In 2014, the claimant moved to the capital of Moldova. In 2015, the claimant started dating her girlfriend, XXXX. The claimant described, in her allegations, numerous accounts when she was harassed and physically assaulted due to her sexual orientation, including two (2) incidents when she was assaulted by strangers that required her to receive medical treatment.
 In the summer of 2018, the claimant went to visit her family when her parents discovered a message from her girlfriend. The claimant’s parents were furious because of her sexual orientation and the claimant left and returned to the capital. The claimant has not spoken with her father since then. Towards the end of 2018, the claimant’s mother warned her that her father wanted to organize a corrective rape. Around April 2019, the claimant’s mother warned the claimant that her dad was looking for her in the capital. The claimant went into hiding by staying with friends. On XXXX XXXX XXXX 2019, the claimant arrived in Canada. In August 2019, the claimant applied for refugee protection.
 I find that the claimant is a Convention refugee.
 The claimant’s identity as a citizen of both Romania and Moldova has been established on a balance of probabilities by her testimony, as well as her Romanian passport and Moldovan identify card located at Exhibit 1. Given the claimant has two (2) countries of reference, she needs to establish a claim against both countries.
 The allegations establish a nexus to a Convention ground for the claimant based on particular social group, both based on the claimant’s sexual orientation as a lesbian and as a woman facing gender-based violence.
 I find that the claimant was a credible witness. In making that finding, I am relying on the principle that a claimant who affirms to tell the truth creates a presumption of truthfulness, unless there are reasons to doubt their truthfulness. In this regard, the claimant testified in a consistent and straightforward manner that was consistent with her Basis of Claim form, narrative, supporting documents and the witness.
 The claimant was also able to speak clearly about her relationship with XXXX, of first when she started identifying as a lesbian, the conditions for sexual minorities in both Moldova and Romania. She was able to answer questions about the physical attacks she received, and she was able to explain the risks to living openly as a sexual minority in either country. Including the risks of physical violence and discrimination with respect to housing and employment. The claimant was also able to answer specific questions when asked. The claimant provided her partner XXXX as a witness. The witness was also able to testify clearly about her relationship with the claimant, the conditions in Moldova, why she believes the conditions are the same in Romania, and I found that the witness was credible as well.
 The claimant provided documents to support her claim. For example, documents found at Exhibit 4, include, medical reports describing injuries received by the claimant; a statement from her partner, XXXX, supporting the claimant’s allegations; photographs of injuries the claimant and her partner received. In addition, Exhibits 5 and 6 contain additional medical reports, copy of the claimant’s lease agreement. I have no reasons to doubt the genuineness of these documents. And since they relate to significant aspects of the claimant’s allegations, including her sexual orientation and the physical assaults that occurred because of her sexual orientation, I place significant weight on these documents to support the claimant’s allegations and overall claim.
 I find that given the claimant’s credibility and supporting documents, the claimant has established, on a balance of probabilities, the facts alleged in her claim. Including her sexual orientation as a lesbian and her subjective fear of being persecuted if she were to return to either Moldova or Romania.
 The objective evidence supports the claimant’s fears of returning to Moldova. The country condition documents found in both the National Documentation Package, which is located at Exhibit 3.1 and those provided by the claimant at Exhibit 4, indicate that societal attitudes against sexual minorities is widespread and pervasive in the country.
 For example, a 2019 US Department of State report found at Item 2.1 in the National Documentation Package States that,
[As Read] The law prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, but societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity continued. The LGBTI community reported verbal and physical abuse. In most cases, police were reluctant to open cases against perpetrators. According to a survey conducted by the Anti-Discrimination Council in 2018, the LGBTI community had the lowest societal acceptance rate of any minority group.
 The 2017 report on the Human Right Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People found at Item 6.1 indicates that derogatory public statements and violence directed towards LGBTI people continued. The report describes an incident where a lesbian woman reported to the police that her mother verbally and physically attacked because of her sexual orientation. The police registered the report as the victim being the instigator and police also contacted child protection services about the victim’s child and disclosing the victim’s sexual orientation and stating that she was mentally unstable.
 The victim provided country condition documents related to Moldova to support her claim that are found at Exhibit 4. These documents include a 2020 version of the US Department of State report for Moldova that indicates that conditions have not improved since the 2029 (sic) report and states that,
[As Read] The LGBTI community remained among the groups that were most vulnerable to hate speech and were subjected to the most aggressive and violent speech registered by authorities.
 Exhibit 4 also has a 2017 news article that describes how the situation of LGBT rights in Moldova, and notes that while there are pride marches that are protected by police and laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination, LGBT people are subject to bias-motivated violence. The article notes that Moldova is one (1) of the most homophobic countries in Europe, where two (2) thirds of Moldovan society believes that LGBT people should be kicked out of the country and only one (1) percent would be ready to accept an LGBT person as a family member. The article also quotes the president of Moldova who stated, “I never promised to be the president of the gays.” In relation to his open opposition to a proposed pride parade.
 I note that numerous reports from both the NDP and the claimant’s documents indicate that sexual minorities face discrimination with respect to housing, employment and obtaining medical treatment in Moldova. The claimant’s own experience with being a victim of physical attacks and having to change her residence, both of those on more than one (1) occasion, unfortunately demonstrate examples of the societal attitudes in country conditions in Moldova noted above.
 The objective evidence also supports the claimant’s fears of resettling in Romania. As with Moldova, societal attitudes towards sexual minorities indicate widespread intolerance and hate. See for example a 2019 European Commission report found at Item 2.7 in the National Documentation Package for Romania, which is found at Exhibit 3.2 and the 2018 UN Report at Item 2.9.
 A US Department of State report from 2020 at Item 2.1 states that significant human rights issues include a lack of investigation and accountability for violence against women. The report also indicates that while discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited by law, societal discrimination against LGBTI persons was common. Further, the report indicates that police not only do not adequately respond to violence against LGBTI person, on some occasions, police approve the violence. Finally, the report states that,
[As Read] A survey carried out by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency reported and revealed that 15 percent of respondents experienced physical or sexual attacks motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity during the past five (5) years. Out of respondents who described the most recent physical or sexual attack, only four (4) percent reported the incident to authorities because they are LGBTI. As many as 28 percent of respondents indicated fear of homophobic reaction, transphobic reaction, or both from police as a reason for not report physical or sexual attack.
 The claimant provided country condition documents related to Romania to support her claim that are also found at Exhibit 4. These documents include a 2017 news article highlighting that only 36 percent of Romanians believe that LGBT should have the same rights as heterosexuals. The article also describes incidents of the police failing to intervene or receiving complaints from LGBT individuals who experience violence and abuse (inaudible).
 Exhibit 4 also contains a 2019 European Commission report that states that, “There is a hostile atmosphere towards LGBT persons in Romania, which renders them targets of violence.” That report also indicates that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is very widespread. Further, the report quotes a survey indicating that only seven (7) percent of respondents would accept a homosexual as a relative, only 12 percent as a colleague and states that, “These extremely low levels of societal acceptance contribute to significant discrimination and stigmatization against LGBT persons in key areas of life.”
 Further, Exhibit 4 contains a 2020 news article that similarly states that,
[As Read] Violence against women in the LGBTQ community is still heavily overlooked and dismissed by authorities. That is when they do not inflict it themselves as it regularly happens.
 Based on the totality of the evidence before, I find that the claimant has established a well-founded fear of persecution for her. In her particular circumstances and in light of the cumulative risks of discrimination and harassment that the claimant would face if she were to return to Moldova or resettle in Romania based on her membership in a particular social group as a lesbian. I also find that the claimant’s risks are heightened because of the risks she faces from her father.
 Based on the evidence noted in the country conditions above, indicating that authorities both in Moldova and Romania are often indifferent and sometimes hostile towards sexual minorities, I find that there is no operationally effective state protection available to the claimant in these circumstances. For example, the report at Item 2.6 in the National Documentation Package for Moldova states that,
[As Read] LGBT person s in Moldova face difficulty getting access to justice, with police officers appearing to be primarily concerned with the victim’s sexuality, rather than any crime committed against them. In the same report Amnesty found that gay men may be the subject to blackmail and extortion by corrupt police officers at known gay meeting points who exploit for fear of exposure.
 And with respect to Romania, the report at Item 2.7 states that,
[As Read] Although the LGBTI minority is explicitly protected by Anti-Discrimination Law, it remains the group most under attack, being subject of legislative proposals aiming to restrict LGBTI rights and the target of acts of aggression during NGO organized events. These attacks remain uninvestigated and have attacked no sanctions, suggesting that authorities are liable for reluctant indifference (which) would be tantamount to official acquiescence to, or even connivance with, hate crimes.
 As such, the claimant has rebutted the presumption of state protection.
Internal Flight Alternative
 For the reasons below, I find that the claimant does not have an internal flight alternative. When determining whether an internal flight alternative exist in Moldova or Romania, I must find both that a claimant would not face a serious possibility of persecution in a proposed internal flight alternative and that conditions in that part of the country are such that it would be objectively reasonable in all the circumstances. Including those particular for the claimant to seek refuge there. The objective evidence noted above previously supports the finding that there is a serious possibility of persecution that would exist for this claimant throughout either country.
 As noted above, the objective evidence indicates that there is deep-rooted prejudice against the LGBTQ community in both Moldova and Romania. That the intolerance exists throughout both countries. There is no evidence in either the country condition documents, the claimant’s testimony or the witness testimony to indicate that there is a place in either country where the conditions for sexual minorities are significantly better.
 Based on the totality of the evidence, I find that the claimant has established that there is no viable internal flight alternative available to her as I find that the claimant would face a serious possibility of persecution throughout Moldova or Romania due to the prevalence of violence against the LGBTQ community.
 For the reasons above, I determine that the claimant is a Convention refugee pursuant to Section 96 of the Act, and the Board, therefore, accept her claim. Given that I am granting protection under Section 96 of the Act, I find it unnecessary to consider the claim under Section 97.
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