Tuesday , 5 July 2022

Scotland slams UK treatment of LGBTI asylum seekers

Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre
Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre – Google Street View

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has criticised the treatment of LGBTI asylum seekers detained in immigration detention centres in the UK.

Scottish politicians have also strongly condemned the government’s mishandling of LGBTI asylum seekers and have called for this policy to be devolved to Scotland.

The criticism is included in a report published on Tuesday following a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention by All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Refugees.

The panel, which included a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord, considered evidence over 8 months and took evidence from the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, the only national charity dedicated to supporting LGBTI asylum seekers, and Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian lesbian asylum seeker and activist. The report states:

We were extremely concerned to hear that LGBTI detainees face bullying, harassment and abuse inside detention centres. This is not acceptable.

The Inquiry demands a fundamental change in the way that immigration detention is used in the UK and calls for a 28 day time limit on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention.

The UK is one of only a few countries in the Council of Europe that has no upper time limit, meaning people can be detained for months or years. The conditions endured by those in immigration detention has been widely criticised.

According to the BBC, 41 detainees at the Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in South Lanarkshire had been there for more than three months, as of January.

Thirty-two detainees had been there for more than six months, while two had been there for more than a year.

One detainee from Iran who had been at Dungavel for 11 months had been in the detention system for almost two and a half years in total.

Dungavel, the only IRC in Scotland, has previously come under fire, for holding children at the centre, and in 2012 a newspaper investigation found that victims of torture had been held at Dungavel, despite this being against Home Office rules, unless in exceptional circumstances.

The Scottish government has previously called for Dungavel to be closed and for the LGBTI Asylum policy to be devolved to Scotland.

Alyn Smith MEP
Alyn Smith MEP

Alyn Smith SNP MEP, member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and LGBTI Intergroup told KaleidoScot: “The Home Office has a long way to go in terms of improving the treatment and rights of LGBTI asylum seekers.

“Crucially, both the detention and the deportation policies often harm LGBTI asylum seekers and put them at serious risks where the opposite should happen.

“I would trust the government and parliament of Scotland to come up with a fairer, kinder and more respectful policy.

“We have heard vague promises on devolving power over this to Scotland, but even these warm words and vague promises are being watered down before our eyes.

“We do not want power for the sake of it we want to see power returned to Scotland in order to come up with better policies. I have no doubt that a Scottish asylum policy will be better than the one delivered by the Home Office.”

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, Alex Nei
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, Alex Nei

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, Alex Neil, agreed with Smith’s comments and told KaleidoScot that treatment of LGBTI asylum seekers by the Scottish government has been in contrast better in the areas devolved and would be further enhanced if handled by Scotland: “In Scotland we are very proud of our record in LGBTI and in welcoming refugees and asylum seekers.

“We believe everyone has the right to live without fear and without discrimination and that people seeking asylum must be treated with dignity and respect throughout the process of making their claim.”

Responding to the report, Paul Dillane, Executive Director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), told KaleidoScot: “We welcome the Detention Inquiry’s findings. The use of immigration detention in the UK is out of control with more asylum seekers than ever before being detained for administrative convenience even though they have committed no crimes: it is extremely costly, damaging and unfair.

Paul Dilane
Paul Dilane

“We believe it is entirely unacceptable to effectively detain people indefinitely and we welcome the call for a 28 day maximum time limit on immigration detention.”

“The Home Office is detaining increasing numbers of LGBTI people who seek asylum, often for weeks or months. Many complain about bullying, verbal abuse, physical violence and sexual harassment in immigration detention centres.”

“Many of our clients – men and women from Uganda, Nigeria and Pakistan – are fleeing life threatening persecution yet they are too often incarcerated in what are effectively immigration prisons and subjected to further homophobic and transphobic abuse. This is unacceptable and we urge the Home Secretary to take steps to tackle this discrimination and violence.”

“We believe everyone has the right to live without fear and without discrimination and that people seeking asylum must be treated with dignity and respect throughout the process of making their claim.”

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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One comment

  1. Way to go! You are actually fulfilling the prediction in Luke 17 of the end-time repeat of the original “days of Lot” in Gen. 19 – and thus making that ancient document even more believable!

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