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Canada court orders review of US lesbian soldier refugee claim

[JURIST] Canada's Federal Court [official website] Friday ordered a review [judgment, PDF] of a denial of refugee status for a lesbian US soldier who deserted the US Army in 2007 and fled to Canada. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) originally rejected Bethany Smith's application in February, finding that she had failed to seek protection within the US and that such protection would have been adequate. Smith claimed that she was severely harassed and discriminated against based on her sexual orientation while stationed in Kentucky and that she faced possible persecution if she returned to the US. Judge Yves de Montigny held that Smith had presented clear and convincing proof that the US was unable to protect her and found that the IRB member who reviewed the application reached an "unreasonable" conclusion.

US President Barack Obama recently pledged [JURIST report] to end the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" [10 USC § 654 text] policy, which subjects openly gay individuals to military discharge. After the US Supreme Court [official website] denied certiorari [JURIST report] to review the policy in June, the US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] announced [JURIST report] that it would hold hearings to review it. Last year, more than 100 retired admirals and generals of the US military called for a repeal [JURIST report] of the policy.

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