Comprehensive information on the legal framework, your rights and issues of concern that must be challenged in Great Britain on International and Immigration issues is available on the Stonewall GB website. Click here to visit.
'When I arrived, I did not know if I was allowed to be gay in this country. I was too afraid to talk to other people. In the UK, it is bad enough that you are an asylum seeker, and it makes it even worse that you are a lesbian.'
Kenyan seeking asylum in the UK
Everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity. It is a fundamental human right to be able to express and enjoy our sexuality and gender, but in many countries of the world these rights are denied and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, kidnapped and killed. This is why LGBT people seek asylum in the UK.
Over seventy countries in the world criminalise same-sex sexual relations and the death penalty is applicable in at least seven of them. Laws that criminalise LGBT people and activities that discriminate against them are in violation of the rights to privacy, freedom from discrimination and freedom of expression and association.
In some countries politically motivated allegations of homosexuality are used to suppress criticism, shut down organizing and to silence political opponents. This may lead to an individual fleeing their country due to fear of the consequences of such allegations.
Those defending sexual rights are also at particular risk of repression and marginalisation.
Many people who claim asylum on the basis of fearing abuse for reasons of their sexual orientation also face serious obstacles in the countries where they seek protection. In some countries of asylum this can be the same or similar persecution to that which they are fleeing. In Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and countries in Northern Europe in recent years, refugee status has been granted to an increasing number of lesbians and gay men fleeing persecution but it still remains difficult to gain recognition on this basis. South Africa is the first and only state in the world to include sexual orientation in the anti-discrimination provisions of its constitution.
Prior to March 1999, lesbians and gay men were refused asylum in the UK on the grounds that they did not constitute a 'social group.' A House of Lords decision changed this ruling. However, some LGBT people fleeing persecution may be unaware that they can claim asylum on the grounds of their sexual orientation in the UK and not doing so straight away may lead to complications or the failure of their claim.
Others may have experienced persecution in countries that are deemed to be 'safe' by the Home Office and their claims may fail as a result.
'Matthew' from Jamaica, now a refugee in the UK, was forced to leave his family and ostracised because of his sexuality. He was beaten and harassed continually by a group of men. When he went to the police they refused to help him. He says:
'I can remember the feeling of walking through Leicester Square with my boyfriend, holding hands. Some people here look and stare - but in Jamaica you can't even think of doing that. You can't even give someone a brotherly hug as people will throw stones at you. Jamaica is very beautiful compared to here, but being gay there is a hell house. It's horrible, a nightmare. I'm very happy and glad to be alive. I would be dead now in Jamaica.'
Lesbian and Gay asylum seekers support project which provides support and advice for LGBT asylum seekers.
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