We have assisted many gay asylum seekers and one of those cases was of a gay asylum seeker from Pakistan. The Secretary of State refused his asylum application on the basis he did not accept our client’s assertion that he was a homosexual, because he did not give an indication of how he realised his sexuality and instead gave a graphic account of being sexually aware at the age of seven. That fact was considered to be detrimental to his overall credibility. The second assertion by the Secretary of State was that he was inconsistent about whether his first kiss with a man took place inside a hostel or outside a hostel room, and that was also to damage his credibility. The third assertion was that because he got in touch with his abusive partner after he came to the UK to escape him, that the whole history of the abusive relationship with his ex-partner was considered to be inconsistent. The expert report from Dr Holden was not accepted because the report commented on life in general for homosexual males in Pakistan, and did not mention that she met the appellant in person as she lives in Italy. The psychological report that was prepared by Dr Thomas was not given credibility because it was prepared after a two-hour interview with the appellant. It was acknowledged that Dr Thomas was an expert, but the report did not follow the Istanbul protocol.
We have appealed and corrected the Secretary of State for the wrong assertions. The Istanbul protocol is a manual on the effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment. It is a tool to be used by the British social services and healthcare professionals in their assessments. It is not the only way of assessing psychological injury.
We have highlighted the model which was endorsed by the UNHCR, the DSSH model, difference, stigma, shame and harm which was developed to enable asylum applications to have the ability to address their individual narrative by asking specific trigger questions to enable further investigation. Applying this to the case and providing the evidence, the appeal was won. We emphasised that the evidence of previous relationships whether or not abusive should not have been considered relevant to the credibility assessment and any assertions regarding lack of credibility must not lead to automatic rejection.