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NEWS: Asylum claims on basis of sexual orientation published

The Home Office has for the first time published statistics showing the number of asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation 

The data shows the number of asylum claims where sexual orientation was raised as part of the basis for the claim, as well as the outcome of these claims and the number of appeals.

It sets out that an estimated 6% of all asylum claims received between 1 July 2015 and 31 March 2017 were linked to sexual orientation, with the highest numbers coming from Pakistan (1,000 – 20% of Pakistani asylum claims over the period), Bangladesh (454, 14%) and Nigeria (362, 18%).

However, the nationalities with the highest proportion of total claims based on sexual orientation were Uganda (67%), Cameroon (38%) and Tanzania (32%).

The data also shows that Pakistani nationals saw the highest volume of grants (233), while the nationalities with the highest proportion of grants were Uganda (55%), Iran (52%) and Jamaica (37%).

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: “This Government is committed to an asylum system which is supportive and responsive to those claiming asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation.

“All asylum claims lodged in the UK, including those on the grounds of sexuality, are carefully considered in accordance with our international obligations. Decision-makers are given dedicated training and guidance on how to handle such claims.

“No one who is found to be at risk of persecution or serious harm in their country of origin because of their sexuality will be returned.”

The statistics do not show whether sexual orientation was the sole basis for the asylum claim; whether it was raised as the basis for the claim at the time it was made or raised at a later stage; or whether the sexual orientation element of the claim had any bearing on the outcome (a claim may be based on multiple factors).

They also do not show the number of asylum claimants who define themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

The Kaleidoscope Trust is a leading charity working to uphold and advance human rights and equality for LGBT people internationally. Executive Director, Paul Dillane, gave the following response:

“How many LGBT people seek asylum in the UK? Despite well-documented instances of discrimination, disbelief and detention experienced by LGBT asylum seekers, it has been impossible to answer this question until this week.

“After years of intensive campaigning, the UK Home Office have finally begun to published statistics. This is a welcome step forward but they raise a series of concerns: the statistics do not provide any information as to why a person seeking asylum on account of their sexuality was refused, trans people are entirely excluded and no information is provided about how many people were detained upon seeking asylum.

“Seeking asylum is not a crime yet the UK detains more asylum seekers than any other country in Europe. Given the brutal conditions experienced by LGBT people in immigration detention, this is an issue which requires urgent attention.”

“Significantly, the statistics published are not disaggregated meaning the specific experiences of lesbian and bisexual women are rendered invisible. Due to pervasive gender inequalities, lesbian, bisexual and trans women are often at risk of particular forms of human rights abuses including domestic violence, forced or underage marriage, trafficking and marital rape.

Their experiences of fleeing persecution and seeking asylum differ from those of gay and bisexual men. For these reasons, it is vital women’s asylum claims and reforms designed to improve their treatment are approached in an intersectional manner or they face being wrongly refused and returned to a country where their life and liberty may be in grave danger.”

“Asylum claims by LGBT people are often matters of life or death. All too often, the specific needs of lesbian, bisexual and trans women are ignored or neglected.

“We urge the UK Home Office to take specific steps to improve standards, training and the quality of decision-making to ensure women fleeing persecution on account of their sexuality and gender identity are genuinely supported and protected.”

The statistics, which are experimental and should be interpreted with caution, can be found here

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