The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, will address the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C. on the question of refugee status for LGBT+ individuals who are escaping their home country’s prejudices and criminalisation of the LGBT+ community. The basis for her comments is that in many cases the individuals do not suffer persecution but something “akin” to discrimination.
The Home Secretary wishes to see extensive revision to the UN Refugee Convention of 1951, that has the approval of 146 countries across the world. Whilst Ms. Braverman is correct in stating that “…we live in a completely different time…” and she does acknowledge that “…let me be clear there are vast swathes of the world where is it extremely difficult to be gay…”. However, she fails to recognise that it is far more than “difficult” if a gay person is born in a country where capital punishment is the sentence for being gay.
Also, in countries where gay people are criminalised the risk does not just extend from the judiciary but often from the general population to an even greater degree. Physical attacks and even worse are perpetrated on gay people in their own communities.
The Rainbow Migration charity, an organisation that has supported LGBT+ with immigration issues for the past 30 years, is appalled pointing out that only 2% of all asylum seekers invoke their sexual orientation as a reason for requiring protection and refugee status. Furthermore, there are already robust levels of evidence of persecution required in the UK for LGBT+ individuals.
Gay lawyers point out that the threats to the safety of LGBT+ community in the 64 countries that criminalise gay people are very real and even in countries that have repealed their anti-gay laws, the general population may still pose a threat as many people are not in agreement with permitting gay relationships and still retain anti-gay thinking. It is more than surprising that the Home Secretary is targeting the Refugee Convention which has the approval of free-thinking open-minded governments across the world.
Sonya Sceats, the CEO of Freedom from Torture, comments that this government has already locked swords with European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in respect of the attempt to introduce sending asylum seekers to Rwanda through the Illegal Migration Act. She expressed shock at the proposed attempt to influence the US to abandon treaties introduced to protect human rights.
Gay Lawyers believes that in order to achieve the Government’s stated aim to reduce the number of asylum seekers attempting to travel to the UK, rather than targeting a minority group that is recognised to suffer appalling persecution in some parts of the world, a far better plan would be address the real issues surrounding the asylum system such as the backlog of claims that has built up but more importantly to seek out the criminal gangs that are exploiting desperate people living in fear and that are in need of protection.
Gay Lawyers does not directly deal with asylum seekers applications but can assist individuals with applications for a range of visas enabling the applicant to live and work in the UK.