The right to family life – for some

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2012 National LGBT Conference
21 September 2012


Conference notes with concern that recent immigration rule changes have – amongst other new restrictions – introduced a minimum income threshold for those wanting to sponsor a non-European Economic Area (EEA) partner to join them in the UK. This threshold starts at £18,600, rising to £22,400 for a partner and one child and by £2,400 for each additional child. The income must have been earned over a period of time and any support pledged by a third party (including other family members) is discounted, as well as the first £16,000 of the couple’s savings. Income earned by the foreign partner overseas or prospectively available through an offer of employment in the United Kingdom (UK) will similarly be ignored.

Based on data from the National Earnings Survey website, this means nearly 40% of the working population of the UK would be prevented from sponsoring a foreign partner.

This negatively impacts on anyone with a non-EEA partner and will hit women, Black people, disabled people, young people, pensioners, low-paid workers and unemployed people particularly hard.

Conference notes, however, that there is a particularly harsh impact on lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people. The opportunity for them to settle in the non-EEA partner’s home country is – in respect to many countries – either non-existent or fraught with risk and difficulty.

The UK is one of the few countries in the world where a bi-national same-sex couple can settle and have their relationship recognised in law. The UK also has amongst the most progressive equality laws protecting trans people. Conference recalls that homosexuality is criminalised in 76 countries and that trans people face extreme violence in many countries, which is often – at best – ignored by the police and judiciary.

Black LGBT members are concentrated in low paid and non-managerial jobs and will therefore find the introduction of the income threshold difficult to meet. As a consequence their ability to invite their partner to join them in the UK will be severely limited and will undoubtedly have a negative impact on their human rights.

Conference calls on the national LGBT committee to:

1)Alert members to these changes and their disproportionate impact on Black LGBT members and others on low incomes ;

2)Signpost members who are directly affected to support and advice groups like the UK lesbian and gay immigration group (which is LGBT despite the name);

3)Raise these injustices with UNISON’s National Executive Council and call on Labour Link to work for changes under a future Labour government.