UK policy on gay and lesbian asylum seekers called into question
May 10, 2010 1 Comment
The UK policy on homosexuality and asylum has been called into question again, this time in the supreme court concerning the cases of two men.
Firstly “T” who, having been caught kissing his partner in Cameroon and fleeing for his life to the UK, is appealing against the decision to deport him back.
The second “J”, the Guardian has reported, “was told by the tribunal that he could be expected to tolerate persecution arising from his homosexual relationship, and should behave discreetly to avoid reprisals.”
Cases such as these bring up a number of issues, namely what kind of morality allows the UK have to send people back to their countries in clear and present danger, the shabbiness of deportation with the provision of discreet behaviour, and what countries belong on the safe country list.
Remember other similar cases (which I’ve written about before):
Diane Taylor reported for the Guardian in August 2004 that following the murder of gay activist Brian Williamson a letter published in the Jamaica Observer the next day read, “To be gay in Jamaica is to be dead.” The article by Taylor further announced that Jamaica was on the British Home Office’s “safe country list” and applications of homosexuals were often dismissed unsympathetically – which paints a different picture than that the far right would have us believe about Britain’s so-called “open-door policy”.
Another example is the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who escaped Iranian prosecution against homosexuality, after her partner was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death by stoning. At first in 2007, her asylum demand was refused by the UK government, but after a concerted campaign she was granted asylum.
For those who consider our immigration policy in this country soft should reconsider on this basis.
The home office needs to properly define what it means by discreet behaviour if, as Angela Mason of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group is right in saying, the HO routinely refuses applications on the grounds that discretion and relocation are proper options.
Consideration of the “safe country list” should also be a Europe-wide matter, calling into question whether a country can be listed as “safe” even if its homophobia is not state stipulated.
Many elements of this issue need urgent change if it is true that the refusal rate for homosexual asylum applicants are at 98%, compared with 73% for asylum claims generally.