By Terry Vanderheyden

MADRID, January 4, 2006 ( – Spain has introduced changes to its immigration policy that would allow asylum to refugees who claim discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

Conforming to guidelines suggested by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the draft law will grant asylum to homosexuals who claim that the exercise of their sexual preference is curtailed in their native country. In addition, women who claim discrimination based on gender would now also be granted refuge.

The change is expected to correct what were seen by the UN and the European Union as deficiencies in Spain’s current refugee law.

A German state, meanwhile, is targeting potential Muslim immigrants with a test to determine their “loyalty” to German social policy on homosexuality, among other issues, as reported by yesterday.

The Globe and Mail revealed in 2004 that nearly 2,500 refugee claimants from 75 countries sought asylum in Canada claiming discrimination based on their homosexual orientation.

In 2001, the Vatican condemned a UN field manual published by UNHCR on reproductive health for refugees for promoting “irresponsible sexual relationships and even abortion.”