UK government slammed for breaking pledge not to deport gay asylum seekers

Deportation of LGBT refugees to countries where they face violence continues, despite UK government pledge of being a safe haven

UK government slammed for breaking pledge not to deport gay asylum seekers
01 November 2012

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers fleeing from violence, persecution and death threats are being deported from United Kingdom despite repeated pledges by the government for a fair treatment.

LGBT and human rights campaigners have slammed the UK government for failing such pledges and called upon it to keep to its word and ensure a fairer procedure for asylum seekers fleeing homophobic violence.

The UK coalition government pledged: ‘We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation.’

British prime minister David Cameron personally promised in 2010, that: ‘Those Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK.’

However, there are increasing reports from charities and lawyers and representing individuals seeking asylum based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, that UK Home Office is refusing to believe asylum seekers are genuinely gay or lesbian, forcing their removal to countries where they are at risk of violence, imprisonment and murder.

A recent debate in the UK House of Lords, reported by GSN, also highlighted this issue.

Malawian lesbian refugee, Esther C. She was scheduled for deportation twice, despite seeking a judicial review of the decision to refuse her asylum. She has won a last minute reprieve but this was only due to a determined campaign to save her from deportation.

Gay Star News previously reported on the case of Alice Niji which has been dismissed on the grounds she and her female partner had not done enough to prove her lesbianism. She was deported to Cameroon, despite the well-known anti-gay witch-hunt that is happening in that country.

GSN also broke the story on a gay Nigerian man, Olalekan M Ayelokun (Ola), who provided testimonies of his homosexuality from male sexual partners, was deported after a judge refused to believe he was gay.

Speaking with GayStarNews, Omar Kuddus, chair of GayAsylumUK, has repeatedly criticized this policy of the UK Borders Agency (UKBA): ‘To what length does a person have to go to prove he or she is gay?

‘The UKBA must realize that they are playing with lives and as such must show compassion and understanding.’

In a press statement, veteran gay and human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell said: ‘In an apparent bid to reduce asylum numbers, the Home Office is sometimes resorting to the despicable tactic of refusing to believe that refugees are gay, even when they provide evidence of same-sex relationships and witness statements from their current or former partners.

‘If this evidence is not good enough, how are refugees supposed to prove their sexual orientation? It is an impossible task. The UKBA seems to be making it deliberately impossible; presumably in order to boost the numbers being deported to satisfy the anti-asylum lobby. This is shocking and shameful.

‘No one in government is taking responsibility to end this injustice. Ministers are doing little or nothing to stop this on-going unfair treatment of LGBT refugees.

‘The UK is not honouring its obligations under the Refugee Convention

Rakshita Patel, Asylum Casework Officer with the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added: ‘These people have come to the UK expecting a safe haven, only to be thrown into a detention centre and treated like a common criminal.
‘The legal aid system does not provide solicitors with sufficient funds to prepare a proper case.

‘We are calling on the coalition government to reform the asylum system to end the deportation of LGBT people who have a sincere, well-founded fear of persecution’.

LGBT rights advocates are planning to participate in event at the Old Vic, London where government advisors and members of parliament will be attending, demanding the UK Home Office create fair rules to protect LGBT asylum seekers.

Advocates, including the campaign group AllOut, and Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ), have organised a petition to demand this.

Commenting on the news Omar Kuddus stated: ‘It is good to finally see that other activists are taking an interest in the plight of LGBT asylum seekers.

‘There has been a deafening silence as a steady stream have faced deportation to countries where they are likely to be imprisoned, tortured and even murdered.’

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