Monday, 4 February 2013
Translation of article about Fernanda Milan in Danish newspaper Politiken
BY FLEMMING CHRISTIANSEN
"Transgender human rights activist Fernanda Milán from Guatemala was due to be deported from Denmark after refusal of asylum.
But now Refugee Board has changed his mind. It is the first time a transgender person seeking asylum has obtained protection in this country. Fernanda Milán has even been recognized as 'genuine' refugee under the UN Refugee Convention.
The Asylum Counselor in the organization LGBT Denmark (National Association for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people) Søren Laursen is no doubt that the decision is of great fundamental importance.
"Now it has been established that people who are persecuted in their home country because of their sexuality or gender identity, need the same protection as other groups," says Søren Laursen.
Fernanda Milán herself was almost disbelief when she got the message. "Finally justice, I thought."
Since she was little, she felt that her body was wrong, so even at the age of 14 she began taking female hormones. She has experienced persecution and violence in her homeland, where police have threatened her – but also because she went public and openly fought for transgender people's rights.
In Guatemala, trans people have few opportunities but to earn a living out of prostitution. Fernanda left the country and ended up in a brothel in Jutland in 2009, and after a police raid she came in contact with the organization's Nest International – but even in Denmark, life has not been easy.
Fernanda Milán has talked about humiliation and abuse committed by other asylum seekers in asylum center Sandholm.
Rare refugee status
Shortly after the rejection of asylum in September LGBT Denmark wrote to the Refugee Board arguiing that Denmark protects sexual minority asylum-seekers far worse than many other countries.
People who are persecuted in their home country because of their sexuality or gender identity, can have an equal need of protection as other groups
Søren Laursen, Asylum Counselor in the organization LGBT Denmark said "Already in Denmark, in certain cases there have been gay, lesbian and transgender people who called protection. But refugee status under the UN Convention, which gives more rights, had never been granted.
The answer came in a letter, in which the Board found that "LGBT people will in their view be recognized as belonging to a particular social group and thus covered by the Refugee Convention." Since the new message is Fernanda’s refugee status has become a reality.
She has here been strongly supported by grassroots organization T-Refugee, and according to spokesperson Stine Larsen also that transgender future easier could get asylum - because now the Refugee Convention in the back.
The long and torturous case demonstrates in Stine Larsen's view, however, that "it can be completely random who gets asylum '.
"But we are pleased that it pays to fight alongside people like Fernanda. Many strings were pulled, and it is a testament to the fact that Denmark, after all, is a democracy. "
Lawyer Gunnar Homann, who has led the proceedings before the Refugee Board, is in no doubt about the importance of the Decision. "It will probably also lead to homosexuals being able to claim the status of UN refugees," he said.
The decision of Fernanda Milan's case came in November, but the support group has not publicized it until now because Fernanda did not feel well at the time. She tells Politiken that she has been exhausted after all this struggle.
"But now I have to make me a future and find jobs. And I will continue to work for justice for transgender people and others whose human rights are not recognized. ""
Translated from Danish by Natacha Kennedy