Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (428)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

428. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if, in the case of applicants for Irish visas who are members of the LGBT community, and whose home countries retain punitive laws against homosexuality and-or transgender persons, there exists a difficulty for these persons to supply full information to consular staff which may be required for certain types of visa if there is a risk that doing so would prompt a referral to the domestic authorities; the guarantees the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service offer to LGBT applicants in order that they can safely disclose all relevant information; if this is clearly communicated prior to application; if her attention has been drawn to any cases where this discrepancy led to an inadvertent rejection of a visa application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24161/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Irish visa application system does not require an applicant to state their sexual orientation nor is it relevant to the consideration of the application. Where the application is for the purpose of family reunification, applications based on same-sex or heterosexual relationship are treated in exactly the same way. This is made clear throughout the Policy Document on Third Country Family Reunification which has been in force since the start of this year. I acknowledge that, in such cases, the nature of the relationship would be clear to the visa officer where they are aware of the gender of both the applicant and a sponsoring partner in Ireland.

However, I can assure the Deputy that information supplied in a visa application is subject to all Irish data protection legislation and cannot be, without the permission of the applicant, supplied to a third party. It is not the practice to refer information supplied in a visa application to domestic authorities in the applicant's home country. If an applicant feels that they are constrained in submitting supporting documentation to a Visa Office or Irish consular mission in their own country, it is open to them to submit that documentation by post or courier to the headquarters of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in Dublin where it can be associated with the on-line visa application and the decision made there. Arrangements can also be made to return this documentation directly to the applicant.

I am advised by INIS that it is not aware of any discrepancy in this area as stated by the Deputy nor is it aware of any case where there has been a refusal, inadvertent or otherwise, of a visa application on grounds of a person's sexual orientation or lack of full disclosure thereof. If the Deputy has any information which suggests otherwise, she should forward it to me and I will arrange to have it investigated.