Unfair Treatment of Black LGBTQI+ Asylum Seekers

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2018 National LGBT Conference
21 September 2018

UNISON welcomes the report from the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) Still Falling Short, which highlights the unfair and degrading treatment of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Intersex plus (LGBTQI+) asylum seekers.

UKLGIG supports LGBTQI+ people through the asylum and immigration process. Their work includes:

• Providing emotional support and immigration advice; making referrals to solicitors; visiting detention centres and other support projects.

• Seeking to ensure LGBTQI+ people are treated equally and with dignity in the asylum process; and to improve the quality of Home Office decision making.

• Providing training and information on LGBTQI+ asylum issues.

LGBTQI+ asylum seekers need to show that there is a reasonable likelihood that if returned to their home country they would face serious harm because of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex. Serious harm must come from either the government authorities or other sections of the population from which the government is either unable or unwilling to provide protection.

Conference notes that the Home Office is not consistently applying the correct standard of proof i.e. that a claimant’s account is reasonably likely.

Home Office figures show that they grant only around a quarter of asylum claims that include sexual orientation as a basis for the claim but around a third of the refusals are won at appeal.

An additional issue faced by Black LGBTQI+ asylum seekers, is the use of immigration detention with no time limit.

A Freedom of Information request on 18th Nov 2016 showed at least 76 LGBT+ asylum seekers were held in immigration detention centres between 1st Jan and 18th Nov 2016. At least 19 of these were still in detention at the time of the request.

Home Office statistics in 2017 showed 70% of immigration detainees were held for more than 28 days. Around half of all detainees are released back into the community.

Asylum seekers, particularly Black LGBT detained in the UK are often extremely vulnerable; many have already been abused, tortured or raped. If perceived to be LGBTQI+ they can suffer abuse, harassment or assault from fellow detainees.

Black LGBTQI+ asylum seekers also face discrimination from both diaspora communities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and LGBTQI+ communities because of racism, xenophobia and islamophobia.

Another barrier is lack of legal aid solicitors with expertise in LGBTQI+ asylum claims.

UKLGIG are concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers and have made the following recommendations:

1)The government should end the detention of all vulnerable people, including LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.

2)The government should implement a time limit of 28 days on all immigration detention.

3)There should be improved judicial oversight of detention.

Conference therefore calls on the National LGBT Committee to:

1)Work with UKLGIG to campaign on the rights of Black LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.

2)Work with Labour Link to campaign for the recommendations suggested by UKLGIG to be implemented.

3)Work with the relevant UNISON bodies to take the necessary steps to affiliate to UKLGIG.