Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel


Kagan, Michael, and Anat Ben-Dor. 2008. Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University’s Public Interest Law Program.

Authors: Michael Kagan, Anat Ben-Dor


In the Occupied Palestinian Territories, some gay men face torture and potentially lethal violence at the hands of PA security forces, members of their own families, and armed militant groups. Brutal repression of homosexuality by a wide array of actors in Palestinian society puts an unknown number of people at risk, and represents an important violation of human rights for people living in the Occupied Territories.

Meanwhile, Israel prohibits these people from even filing asylum applications, simply because of their nationality. The United Nations has intervened in a few cases to promote resettlement of gay Palestinian men to third countries, but the UN refugee office in Jerusalem has generally cooperated with Israel in excluding Palestinians from the asylum system.

Israel has increasingly recognized equal rights for gays, lesbians and trans-gendered people and has taken substantial steps in recent years to implement the right to seek asylum. Asylum claims based on sexual orientation are becoming increasingly routine in international refugee law. If respect for the rights of gay men in the Occupied Territories does not improve, and if the State of Israel’s current refusal to receive Palestinian asylum-seekers does not change, innocent people will be put in mortal danger. Israel’s continued refusal to consider asylum claims from gay Palestinians violates the general rule of international law – recognized by Israel’s High Court – against returning a foreigner to a territory where his or her life or freedom may be in danger. Under international law, no state may discriminate by nationality with regard to refugee protection.

This report analyzes evidence that gay Palestinians are at risk of severe human rights violations in PA-controlled areas and analyzes Israel’s obligations to asylum-seekers under international law. It then makes recommendations as to how Israel and the United Nations can better protect gay Palestinian asylum-seekers.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Occupation, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Gender-Based Violence, LGBTQ Regions: MENA, Asia, Middle East Countries: Israel, Palestine / Occupied Palestinian Territories

Year: 2008

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