Rainbow Rush: Imagine you grew up living in a place where homosexuality isn’t just condemned, it’s a death sentence.
You could have been beaten, raped, tortured or jailed just for a kiss, a hug, or sex in private.
Terrified, you fled to a country that you had heard would protect you.
But then there you find out the ‘safer shore’ is not so safe. You are often locked up, met with prejudice and ignorance, and are not given a chance to build your case.
This is what’s happening to thousands of LGBTI asylum seekers in the UK. This is the Rainbow Rush scandal.
Rainbow Rush scandal
In recent years, Gay Star News have highlighted multiple examples of UK immigration officials misunderstanding the needs of LGBTI asylum seekers and mishandling their cases.
Home Office officials have turned down genuine applicants, advised them to go home and ‘act discreetly’ or even suggested religion can ‘cure’ them.
Despite repeated promises from HM Government that these abuses will end, we continue to hear of multiple cases which indicate the problem is systemic and unresolved.
The UK government has 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 fulfill a ‘quota’.
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.
Open letter to the Home Secretary
Gay Star News has written an open letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
It has been co-signed by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, UK Black Pride, Just A Ball Game, Bourne Free (of Bournemouth Pride), Proud Cherries (AFC Bournemouth LGBT+) and the African Equality Foundation.
Peter Tatchell said many of the asylum seekers he has worked with ‘have been incarcerated like common criminals in UK immigration detention centres, where they’ve too often suffered homophobic, biphobic or transphobic abuse’.
He added: ‘Some were jailed, tortured, raped or badly beaten in their home countries, yet the Home Office compounds their trauma by locking them up.
‘This makes it almost impossible for them to prepare a strong asylum application with the necessary material evidence to back their claim.
‘No wonder so many fail and face deportation to the terrors that await them in their countries of origin.
‘The whole asylum system needs major reform and I hope Sajid Javid will be the Home Secretary to do it. ‘