Asylum rights for LGBT refugees

For years, we’ve been pressing the Government to be more helpful to people seeking asylum because their sexual orientation or gender identity have put their lives or liberty in danger. A couple of weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled against the current UK policy of returning lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers to their countries of origin on the basis that they would be safe if they remain “discreet” about their sexual orientation. The Court ruled that this constituted a denial of a fundamental right. The TUC has supported campaigns by individuals seeking asylum from countries where homosexuality is illegal, where they face severe punishment including violent attacks from mobs and execution.

The Government has said that in future its policy would be to not return LGBT asylum seekers to countries where they face severe persecution, and the Supreme Court ruling gives legal force to this policy. It means that the Home Office must abandon its shameful practice of using the ‘keep quiet and you will be safe’ argument to return lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers to persecution and death in their native countries. We have written to the Home Secretary to seek a meeting to press for the policy and practice of the UK Border Agency to be changed immediately.

Peter Purton, TUC LGBT officer

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