The High Court has ordered a fresh consideration of a man's application for international protection over his claim of fear of persecution due to his LGBTQ orientation if returned to his native Georgia.
The 25-year-old man, who was initially refused refugee status and subsidiary protection, asked the court to quash the upholding of that decision by the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) and its refusal to grant him an oral hearing of his appeal.
He arrived in Ireland on July 2019 and in his application for international protection, he said it was based on a well-founded fear of persecution in Georgia at the hands of his family and Georgian society due to his membership of the LGBTQ social group.
He also alleged that he had suffered physical violence due to his sexual and romantic relationship with another man.
He was refused by the International Protection Office (IPO) and he requested an oral hearing of his appeal before the IPAT which was refused. The IPAT later also upheld the IPO decision, refusing him refugee/subsidiary protection status.
In his High Court action challenging both the substantive refugee/subsidiary protection decision and the oral hearing decision, he claimed the IPAT failed to carry out its assessment of his appeal on an individual basis, and it did not first determine his sexual orientation.
Rather, he said, it determined that issue last having looked at a variety of other aspects of his narrative relating to his claim.
He claimed the IPAT erred in law in failing to have regard to relevant considerations, namely relevant country of origin information in relation to the absence of effective state protection for LGBTQ people in Georgia.
He claimed the IPAT decision was irrational in a number of respects including that it conflated plausibility and credibility and engaged in impermissible speculation and conjecture in relation to how the man should have acted and behaved in the particular circumstances when it determined he should have attended the police following the attack on him.
He said it was not rational to expect him to have done so when the Georgian police routinely ignore those who are subjected to homophobic attacks and themselves are complicit in their persecution.
The respondents, IPAT and the Minister for Justice, opposed the action.
Mr Justice Cian Ferriter, in a judgment, said in his view the man was correct in his contention that the decision simply failed altogether to engage with or take into consideration the substantive matters he had put in his request for an oral hearing.
He granted an order quashing the IPAT decision, made on August 17th, 2020, and sent it back to the IPAT for a fresh determination on the question of an oral hearing.
The judge said it also followed that because the decision to refuse an oral hearing was unlawful, the subsequent IPAT decision to refuse him refugee/subsidiary protection status must also fail and that application must also be reconsidered.