Stop legal aid cuts for LGBT asylum seekers

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2013 National LGBT Conference
23 July 2013
Carried as Amended

Conference notes the human rights abuses perpetrated within the country of origin of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people who make asylum applications in the United Kingdom (UK). It also acknowledges the serious failings of the UK Borders and Immigration Agency to appropriately process and investigate such applications. All LGBT asylum seekers therefore need full access to lawyers to defend their case for asylum.

Conference notes that many LGBT asylum seekers are destitute and are wholly reliant on legal aid for access to lawyers and to end the injustice whereby many genuine LGBT asylum seekers are being sent back to viciously anti-LGBT countries like Iran, Uganda, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Jamaica and Saudi Arabia.

This conference therefore condemns the cuts to legal aid proposed by the Ministry of Justice outlined in the consultation paper “Transforming Legal Aid” which will be implemented without a vote in Parliament.

The plans are to:

1. Introduce a residency test for immigrants disqualifying all those who have not been in the UK lawfully for at least 12 months from civil legal aid including those detained indefinitely under immigration powers;

2. Severely restrict applications for Judicial Review;

3. Cut fees for expert medical and psychological reports, crucial in obtaining justice for survivors of rape, torture and human trafficking;

4. Make solicitors bid for criminal cases so that the lowest bidder is appointed and big corporations like G4S or Eddie Stobart’s trucking company take on representation without commitment or specialist knowledge.

This is an attack on LGBT asylum seekers human rights of access to justice and a fair trial in claiming asylum.

This Conference therefore calls on the National LGBT Committee to:

A. Write to the Coalition government Minister of Justice, opposing these cuts to legal aid and to copy in the Shadow Minister of justice;

B. Work with Labour Link to campaign for the Labour party to oppose these legal aid cuts.

C. Highlight the effect of legal aid cuts for LGBT asylum seekers.