Review of the implementation of the SOGIE Guideline

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) has published a review of the way it is implementing Chairperson's Guideline 9: Proceedings Before the IRB Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender identity and Expression (SOGIE).

The review began in the spring of 2019 as a best practice for policy instruments, ensuring that they are being applied effectively in a manner that supports high quality decision-making. The review's objectives were to assess if and how Guideline 9 was being applied and to develop recommendations to further strengthen its implementation.

The review includes analysis of a sample of IRB cases and relevant Federal Court cases, a series of consultations with internal and external stakeholders, and a comprehensive scan of policy, media and academic sources.

Overall, the review shows widespread approval of the Guideline and a marked improvement of the IRB's approach to cases involving SOGIE individuals since the Guideline's introduction. It also identifies some areas of ambiguity within the Guideline and opportunities for improvement in terms of the consistency of its application.

As such, the review includes a series of 11 recommendations for the continued optimization of the implementation of the Guideline. These recommendations - centred around credibility assessments, training and accessibility of resources, language and terminology and data capturing - propose a practical way forward to ensure that the Guideline and its implementation continue to reflect the latest practices and approaches.

The IRB is committed to take action and follow up on the review's recommendations. Accompanying the review is our implementation plan, which outlines the important steps we will be taking so that all recommendations are carefully applied and that we continue to improve the Guideline.

The IRB is dedicated to ensuring the fair and respectful treatment of all those appearing before the Board and is committed to the correct implementation of its Guidelines. As such, the review's recommendations will be actioned over the coming months and work has begun on the review of other Guidelines, notably Chairperson's Guideline 4: Women Refugee Claimants Fearing Gender-Related Persecution.


‘This review demonstrates the IRB's ongoing commitment to the respectful treatment of individuals appearing before it. It is an acknowledgement that an individual's particular circumstances, such as those related to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, may impact the presentation of their case. The review's conclusions are encouraging and speak to the overall professionalism and dedication of IRB staff. I thank all those who participated in the consultative phase of this review: we have heard you and are pursuing those areas that present further opportunities for improvement.'

Richard Wex, Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Quick Facts

  • Chairperson's Guidelines are non-binding tools that serve as a source of guidance on the adjudication and management of cases. They are used primarily by decision-makers but are also intended for the personnel supporting adjudicative functions.
  • Chairperson's Guideline 9 was introduced on May 1, 2017, with the purpose of promoting greater understanding of cases involving SOGIE and the harm individuals may face due to their non-conformity with socially accepted SOGIE norms. It addresses the particular challenges these individuals may face in presenting their cases before the IRB and establishes guiding principles for decision-makers in adjudicating SOGIE cases.