Asylum and the Treatment of Refugees

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2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
1 August 2003

This Conference deplores the use of language in certain parts of the media and the Government which only provides fuel for racists such as the British National Party (BNP) to pour onto the fire that is currently burning in this country.

In this, UNISON’s 10th anniversary year, Conference believes that we must all fight to combat the slur of racism that affects this society. ‘No them and us’ should mean just that: that we are all equal in this society. This Conference is committed to underpinning the 10th anniversary theme, the fair treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, particularly in regard to lesbians and gay men.

Conference is committed to the fair and just treatment of refugees, and those seeking asylum from unstable countries, under the terms of the 1951 United Nations Convention on Asylum Seekers and Refugees.

Conference welcomes the Government’s decision to recognise homophobic persecution – particularly for Jamaican nationals – as a reason to grant leave to remain in the UK.

Conference condemns the extension of the ‘white list’ in February 2003 to include Jamaica, as well as countries from the former Eastern Bloc. The ‘white list’ of countries are those from which the Home Office presumes that asylum claims are ‘unfounded’. People who are fleeing persecution will find their situation much worse on arrival at a UK port or airport – not knowing the legal system must be devastating particularly if English is not their first language. People from ‘white list’ countries whose asylum applications are refused can only appeal from their country of origin.

Conference instructs the National Lesbian and Gay Committee (NLGC) to:

1.make representations to the Home Secretary, noting the feeling of this Conference on this issue, and seeking an urgent review of the whole asylum policy, making it clear and transparent both in the UK and worldwide; with the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and Amnesty International, as well as the General Political Fund and the Labour Link to combat the negative imagery and derogatory terms used in the media and society at large when discussing asylum seekers; with organisations that are involved with these issues and promote literature and campaigns on behalf of lesbian and gay asylum seekers;

4.pursue with the National Executive Council an invitation of either a lesbian or gay asylum seeker to speak at the National Delegate Conference on this issue.

Conference further encourages all regional and branch lesbian and gay (L&G)

groups and individual L&G members to give active support to local campaigns supporting asylum seekers and campaigns for positive changes in asylum policy.