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Gay Asylum Claims Still Not Being Handled Correctly in Britain

Gay Asylum Claims Still Not Being Handled Correctly in Britain

British ministers have admitted that, due to a failure to properly track asylum claims on the basis of gay identity, the British Home Office has no way of knowing whether Britain is still deporting gay and lesbian applicants back to countries where they may be at risk because of institutionalized homophobia and anti-LGBT violence.

This follows a court ruling last year that the Home Office could no longer justify returning gay people to their home countries where they may be at risk of violence and persecution on the basis that the applicant could live “discreetly” and not disclose their sexuality.

More from The Guardian:

In that July ruling, welcomed by Theresa May, the home secretary, one judge described how homophobia had “dramatically worsened” in countries such as Uganda, Malawi and Iran, making it necessary to allow those at risk protection in Britain.

The UK Border Agency was told by the Home Office last year that the new rules should be applied “with immediate effect” and that relevant cases should be “flagged and recorded”.

But more than six months on, the government still does not know how many cases they are dealing with, let alone whether the ruling is being followed.

Last week, the US secretary of state, Hilary Clinton, launched her department’s 35th Human Rights report, which cited a Stonewall report drawing attention to “significant disadvantages” experienced by lesbian and gay asylum seekers in Britain. The UK chapter in the US state department report said: “Stonewall claimed that, by ‘fast tracking’ these more complex cases and denying them quickly, UKBA staff did not give applicants time to talk openly about their sexual orientation.”

The campaign group found that, in the period between 2005-2009 almost all gay and lesbian asylum seeker claims were initially refused, compared with a 76% refusal rate among all asylum seekers, and were more likely to be fast tracked, which meant applicants and their lawyers had much less time to prepare an appeal.

[Read more including comments from LGBT groups and lawyers dealing with LGBT asylum claims here.]

A difficulty in assessing genuine asylum claims on the basis of LGBT identity is routinely cited as a problem for asylum officials across the globe.

There have, however, been several high profiled cases involving gay asylum claims being rejected in Britain, among them the case of Kiana Firouz, an Iranian filmmaker who created a video documentary about the treatment of LGBT citizens by the Iranian government.

Firouz met with difficulties last year when she was initially rejected for asylum in the UK despite the British government readily acknowledging that state sanctioned anti-LGBT violence and persecution in Iran is a pressing problem. Firouz was eventually granted asylum, but her case exposed serious concerns regarding how LGBT asylum applications are treated.

Members of the European Parliament recently voted on measures to modernize the way asylum claims are handled with a particular emphasis on how asylum claims made on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are overseen. Click here to read more.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks ot brainchildvn.

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11 comments

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2:33AM PST on Feb 16, 2013

IF you dont like the way the Brits do things...then stay out....at least they are trying !

11:48AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Shame! How long should it take to implement a fix? No excuse!

10:17AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Countries, as sovereign bodies gave the right to decide who comes into their country. Is there anyone here who would like other countries to decide who should be admitted here?? I didn't think so. There is no way to prove the the claims from gay people. Anyone can just say they're gay and get asylum???? I think not and I most certainly hope not: ANYONE could make this claim.

9:09AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Thanks muchly for having posted this. Passing it along to gay friends for their site.

8:02AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Will Hilary Clinton continue to have her orgasms watching Navy Seals blow Bin Ladens head to pieces, and stay out of Britisg business. No Mrs. Clinton, the UK does not have a foreign statue welcoming all comers, nor does it make remarks about who the UK accepts. Many would-be asylum seekers pretend to be gay to avoid having their claim rejected. The UK is aware of the problems with asylum seekers, and Theresa May is working to improve the application process - are you trying to improve the [process for seekers here? Madam, you revolt me!

5:57AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Noted.

5:02AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Sigh. There is no excuse for not correcting this problem. How long does it take? And how many people will either die, end up in jail or raped before they do manage to sort it out? Shameful.

4:27AM PDT on May 4, 2011

I give credit to the UK for granting asylum for those who are gay. I'm guessing most countries don't, and I commend them for that. Their system may not be perfect, but kudos to them for working on it.

3:47PM PDT on May 3, 2011

Hi Steve

I've written a full analysis of this development for LGBT Asylum News here > http://madikazemi.blogspot.com/2011/05/has-uk-government-met-its-promise-on.html

The problems with Kiana were related to her claim being badly formed initially. Her fresh claim, however, was quickly accepted.

We are finding serious problems more with claims from other countries than Iran (or Iraq). African countries and Jamaica in particular. You note that 'genuine asylum claims' is a problem but this has become *more of a problem and suggests that resistance to claims may be being reframed and the bar being raised.

The point about not recording information is that this cannot be tested, we just have anecdotal evidence.

1:50PM PDT on May 3, 2011

A country should be allowed to accept who they want and NOT been force...like we are now to accept anybody...
I am not against this BUT AGAINST the idea that we have to accept anybody because someone else tell us!!

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