People should be able to love who they love, and be who they are, without facing persecution. But right now, the UK Government is trying to pass a bill that would be extremely dangerous for LGBTQ+ people seeking a safe place to call home.
We’re talking about Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which is totally anti refugees. This bill would severely harmful consequences for anyone simply seeking safety in the U.K. And, for people seeking asylum here because of their sexuality or gender identity, the bill is even more concerning.
Here’s just some of the ways in which LGBTQI+ people facing persecution in their home country would be discriminated against under this new law.
If you’re fleeing your country because your sexuality or gender identity puts your life in danger, often neighbouring countries will also not be safe. For example, right now the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Afghanistan are at risk. But fleeing to neighbouring countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan isn’t a long-term option for LGBTQ+ people who would still be criminalised and in danger. Yet under this bill, people would be punished for how they got to the UK. They would even try to deport anyone who’s travelled through another country. To be clear: the Government would knowingly deport someone to a country where their lives were in danger.
Even once someone’s asylum claim is approved, the UK Government would continue to treat people differently based on how they got to the UK rather than what they fled. Even though the systems of oppression facing LGBTQ+ people don’t disappear in just a year, people would be put through the traumatic process of having their claims reassessed on a yearly basis. This would cause severe stress and anxiety particularly because the home office have been known to make terrible and incorrect decisions about the risk to a person’s life.
Priti Patel’s plans include offshore detention centres and housing people in ‘reception centres’ (guaranteed to be a lot less welcoming than the name suggests!). Stonewall and Rainbow Migration have said that this type of institutional accommodation, away from communities and support, would result in “systemic verbal, violent and sexual abuse of LGBTQI+ people, high rates of self-harm and suicide.” The current use of immigration detention in the UK is known to be terrible for people’s wellbeing and LGBTQ+ people in detention are already particularly vulnerable – the Government should be looking to end not expand this system!
Even in the UK’s current asylum system it can be very difficult for an LGBTQ+ person to prove their eligibility - partly because of the Home Office’s hostile interview process. Imagine you’ve spent your whole life needing to hide your sexuality or identity to protect yourself and then a government official you’ve never met before expects you to talk in depth about this and provide evidence. It’s also often impossible to provide the types of evidence requested, for example, you’re unlikely to have photographs of you and a partner which could have got you tortured and killed in your home country.
Our Government should be working to advance the rights and dignity of LGBTQI+ people, NOT adding to people’s persecution.
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