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Paragon Law victory in the Supreme Court

Two homosexual men who claimed asylum in the United Kingdom based upon their fear of persecution in their home country on account of being gay have won their case in the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United Kingdom.

One of the men, ‘HJ’, represented by leading immigration law practice, Paragon Law, had been earlier refused asylum on the basis that he could be reasonably expected to tolerate concealment of his sexual identity in Iran in order to avoid the severe ill-treatment which it was accepted he would face if he were to be open about his sexuality.

However, the test applied by the Court of Appeal in dismissing HJ and HT’s case (the other applicant) was “unanimously” overturned by a panel of judges in the Supreme Court. In their landmark decision it has now been accepted that the ‘reasonable tolerability’ test is incompatible with the protection which the Refugee Convention is designed to afford to those in genuine need of international protection.

In overturning the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lord Hope stated:

“It is crucially important that they [gay persons] are provided with the protection that they are entitled to under the Convention – no more…, but certainly no less.”

Importantly, the judgment of the Supreme Court also sets out clear guidance for the Tribunal and Home Office in dealing with the cases of gay asylum claimants. Deirdre Sheahan, solicitor with conduct of the case at Paragon Law stated that:

‘We are delighted by today’s decision. This landmark decision recognises that the correct focus must be on how the person would act if they were to be returned to their home country and if a material reason as to why they would have to conceal their sexuality is due to a well founded fear of the severe harm which would arise if they did not do so, then they should be afforded with protection. This recognises that a gay person entitled to live freely and openly without fear of severe ill-treatment in the same way as a straight person is entitled to’

Such guidance is of fundamental importance for the safeguarding of those people who fear persecution based on their home country’s treatment of gay persons.

Managing Director of Paragon Law, Thalej Vasishta, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court.  Addressing the issues of injustice, discrimination and disadvantage is a strong component of our DNA at Paragon Law and to also ensure that the Rule of Law is upheld”.

He went on to say “I am very proud of the hard work and dedication that our Head of the Asylum & Human Rights Team, Deirdre Sheahan, has put into this case and developing the legal arguments from an early stage which were ultimately tested and were successful before the Supreme Court.  Deirdre was part of a quality legal team that was assembled on behalf of our client and his joint appellant which included in addition to Deirdre, Raza Husain QC, Monica Carss-Frisk QC and Wilson & Co Solicitors.  We would also like to thank the assistance of the interveners in this case who were the Equality & Human Rights Commission who were represented by Karon Monaghan QC and the UNHCR whose legal team included Baker & McKenzie LLP and Michael Fordham QC.”