The Labour Party has pledged to review the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans asylum seekers in an LGBT Manifesto which will be launched in Brighton today.
The LGBT Manifesto states: “With Labour, Britain will always be a country that provides refugee for those fleeing persecution, whether on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. There have been too many cases of discriminatory and offensive treatment of LGBT people claiming asylum, so we will review the procedures to ensure the rules are upheld fairly and humanely.”
The Labour LGBT Manifesto pledges to “Review the process and guidelines around applications for asylum on the basis of persecution for sexuality or gender identity.”
Responding to the pledge, Paul Dillane, Executive Director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), commented: “This pledge is most welcome and is a sign of progress within the Labour Party. The last Labour administration’s record on the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers was atrocious.
“UKLGIG exposed that 98-99% of lesbian and gay asylum seekers were refused and told to go back to countries like Iran and Uganda and be ‘discreet’. Unknown numbers of people, including our own clients, were forcibly removed from the UK and effectively told to get back in the closet and conceal their sexual or gender identity. As the Supreme Court later ruled, that was entirely unacceptable.
“LGBT asylum seekers continue to experience disbelief and discrimination in the UK. Increasing numbers are locked up indefinitely in immigration detention centres where they are subjected to bullying, abuse and harassment. We need to see real leadership from whoever wins the next election to ensure LGBT people whose lives are at risk are protected and treated with dignity and respect.”
The LGBT Manifesto comes days after Lucy Powell, Labour Party candidate in Manchester Central and Vice Chair of the Labour Party Election Campaign, commented: “LGBT people across the world face horrific violence and injustice and we have a moral duty to be a safe haven and to use our international standing to encourage countries to improve LGBT rights.”
In 2010, UKLGIG exposed that a staggering 98-99% of gay and lesbian asylum seekers had been refused asylum under the previous Labour administration. UKLGIG’s ‘Failing the Grade’ report stated: “In many lesbian and gay cases, analysis focuses on whether the asylum seeker could return to the country of origin and hide their sexual identity. Sexual identity is thereby reduced to physical sexual behaviour. Thus, if a lesbian or gay man previously lived a clandestine life in their home country, due to their fear of persecution, then they can be returned to that country and be ‘discreet’ again, supposedly without fear of persecution.”
The last Labour Government refused to abandon this policy, which was found unlawful by the Supreme Court in July 2010. Lucy Powell criticised this policy and commented: “There have also been cases where the Home Office have said that gay people can return to their home country and ‘live discreetly’ meaning to hide their sexuality. This was completely wrong in my mind and was overruled by a Supreme Court judgment.”