News from Europe

Conversion to Christianity is grounds for asylum

In a landmark ruling the European Court of Justice has decided that a conversion to Christianity after the flight should be recognised as grounds for asylum if the applicant can credibly demonstrate that he has changed his religion out of "inner conviction".


On February 28, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided on the case of an Iranian convert living in Austria. After his first asylum application was rejected by Austria the man converted to Christianity and claimed in a “subsequent application” that he would be persecuted for his faith if he returned. The Austrian authorities granted him subsidiary protection and a temporary residence permit but rejected his asylum claims as the reason for persecution, his Christian faith, had not yet existed when the man was still living in Iran.

The ECJ disagreed with this decision, ruling that a subsequent application on grounds of conversion does not constitute “abuse”. It stated that EU law does not allow the general conclusion that “every subsequent application based on circumstances created by the applicant himself after leaving the country of origin is due to an intention to abuse and to instrumentalize the procedure for the granting of international protection”.

According to the Court, refugee status should be granted if the person can credibly demonstrate that they have changed their religion out of “inner conviction” and the “requirements for qualification as a refugee” are met.




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