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LGBTI refugees endure sex interrogations for UK asylum

A leaked report has revealed the ‘shocking’ questioning refugees face trying to gain asylum in the UK
Keith Vaz is 'shocked' at the kind of questions gay refugees are being asked in the UK

UK Home Office officials have reportedly been humiliating LGBTI asylum seekers with degrading questions about their sex lives.

A leaked report to the Observer, from October 2013, reveals the extent of the harsh questioning that asylum seekers endured.

One bisexual man underwent five hours of questioning, with no lawyer present, including: ‘Did you put your penis into x's backside?’ and ‘When x was penetrating you, did you have an erection? Did x ejaculate inside you? Why did you use a condom?’

Keith Vaz, chair of the home affairs select committee, said he was ‘shocked’ at the type of questioning people were being subjected to.

S Chelvan, barrister and asylum expert, said: ‘I'm horrified by the nature of the questions that have been highlighted.

‘It's more like an interrogation than an interview. It is exceptionally troubling that there were questions like whether an individual ejaculated or whether they used a condom.

‘This is an unacceptable investigation of a gay asylum claim. Clearly, something is going terribly wrong here.’

Colin Yeo, an immigration barrister, agreed.

"This is the worst I have seen,’ he said.

‘These sorts of intrusive, abusive questions are features of Home Office interview practice, particularly in cases involving sexuality.

‘The underlying problem is that officials believe everyone is a liar. It leads to a fundamental lack of respect for the people they are dealing with.’

Disbelief regarding asylum seekers, and the fear of false claims, means that LGBTI people fleeing from countries where homosexuality is illegal are being forced to convince UK officials that they are gay.

Richard Lane, on behalf of gay rights group Stonewall, said: ‘Valuable time and resources is spent attempting to 'prove' a claimant is gay rather than establishing whether they have a legitimate fear of persecution.’

The Home Office said they do not discriminate against anyone because of their sexuality.

‘All applicants are required to establish they face persecution, inhumane or degrading treatment in their home country to qualify for our protection’ a spokesperson said.

This report comes after similar investigations that surfaced last year, revealing that LGBTI asylum seekers were asked inappropriate questions about whether they go to gay clubs, pride marches and whether they read Oscar Wilde.

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