The UK is trying to separate a married gay couple and deport one to his death.
A 30-year-old, who we’ll call Indra, is fighting a deportation order to return to Nepal.
After being outed by a UK immigration tribunal, he faces death threats from people he once called family and friends.
This is just one story of the Rainbow Rush, showing the ineptitude and ignorance of the UK Home Office when dealing with LGBTI asylum seekers.
UK wants to separate husbands and send one to his death
Scared for his partner’s life, Indra’s husband says he will not allow the two of them to be separated.
William, 50, met Indra while in Kathmandu in the summer of 2013. The two became very close, and chatted frequently over Skype.
‘It was love at first sight,’ he said, saying he took every chance he could get to go back to Nepal.
And then, a year and a half later, they married at a registry office in south-west England.
‘It’s been wonderful,’ William tells Gay Star News. ‘I couldn’t be happier except for this ongoing nightmare.’
Outed during public hearing
Indra was a legal resident of the UK since entering the country in September 2015.
Applying for a leave to remain in the UK prior to the expiry of his visa, his application was refused.
This decision was then upheld by the first tier and upper tier tribunals of the Home Office.
During the course of the upper tier tribunal hearing, Indra’s identity was outed and put in the public domain.
The hearing took place alongside other people from Nepal. Because of this, Indra’s sexuality was exposed.
‘My life will be at risk if I get sent back, my family might kill me,’ Indra told GSN.
‘They expect me to be a man by getting married and giving them grandchildren. They are homophobic and use gay slurs a lot.’
Because of the anonymity order Indra had, the couple went in expecting a private hearing. However, the spokesperson for HM Courts and Tribunals says you have to apply for these.
Husband told he could not stay in interview room
This is not the only difficulty the couple have faced.
The UKVI Director General allegedly advised them they could apply for an exceptional leave to remain visa. The couple and their MP later learned from the UK LGIG (UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group that this visa had been scrapped years ago. Home Office later told the couple this doesn’t exist.
During a screening interview last Friday at the Home Office in Croydon, William was told he could not stay in the interview room. Asylum applicants are entitled to keep one person in the room with them. Indra’s English is good, but he is not fluent.
‘I stated that I was Indra’s husband and that caused a look of shock,’ William said.
‘The only possible conclusion we have reached…our experiences are the immigration services are homophobic, and that statements to the contrary are at the very best disingenuous.’
‘Impossible to live safely, even in hiding’ in Nepal
Leaving the UK and staying in Nepal is not an option.
The Blue Diamond Society, the country’s LGBTI human rights organization, has said it is an ‘impossibility’ for the couple to ‘live safely, even in hiding’.
Even if they went to a town where no one knew them, a Nepali man living with an Englishman could easily provoke mob violence.
While it is not illegal to be gay in Nepal, and the country even has anti-discrimination laws, it is still very homophobic.
Given a ‘black mark’ by British immigration authorities
There is not an option to go to a third, different country either.
William’s mother is over 80 years old and in fragile health. Her GP has confirmed her son’s continued care and contact is necessary for her security and well-being.
In New Delhi, India, British immigration authorities gave Indra three refusal entry stamps, a ‘black mark’, in his passport. Despite this breaching his right to travel free of interrogation harassment, it is unlikely he will be given any type of visa for long-term stay or settlement in any country.
While the couple are being supported by their MP, the experience has been ‘absolutely devastating’.
‘We’re despairing,’ William told GSN. ‘It’s affected our health, our sleep. [Indra’s] lost a lot of his hair from the stress, and he’s 30. It’s catastrophic.’
Rainbow Rush scandal
The UK has recently faced widespread backlash after the Windrush scandal. Around 57,000 people, who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries in the 50s and 60s, were suddenly considered ‘illegal immigrants’. This led to several people facing forced removal from a country they have lived their whole lives.
The Conservative party, in a policy instituted by Prime Minister Theresa May, aimed for an ‘ambitious target’ to deport immigrants in the UK. This scandal then led to the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
LGBTI people are often the worst victims of the asylum system in the UK.
Data shows the Home Office, in the past two years, have turned away two thirds of the 3,535 gay or bi asylum applications. Many of these people have true stories, and are victims of some of the worst personal traumas imaginable. However when they come to the UK, they are treated with suspicion, discrimination and appear to be sent home to fulfil a ‘quota’.
The Home Office has denied claims its practices are prejudiced.
A spokesperson said: ‘The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we do not deport anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality.’
Activists are now calling on the UK government to drastically change the way they operate asylum and ensure people are not returned to homophobic countries.