UK Border Agency begins recording gay asylum claims

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The government says the UK Border Agency has begun collecting data on the numbers of asylum claims based on sexual orientation.

In March, immigration minister Damian Green said the data was not being collected and cited “disproportionate cost”.

Campaigners for LGBT asylum seekers were angry at the admission and said the coalition government could not keep its promise on protecting those at risk of violence and persecution if it did not record details of cases.

Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that the policy of returning gays and lesbians to dangerous countries under the belief that they could be “discreet” about their sexual orientation must end.

Following this, the Home Office told the UK Border Agency that relevant cases should be “flagged and recorded” to ensure that rules were not being breached and that cases were being monitored.

In a statement given to LGBT Asylum News, a Home Office spokesman said: “The government has made it clear that it is committed to stopping the removal of asylum seekers who have genuinely had to leave particular countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.

“From July 1st we have begun to record data on claims brought on the grounds of sexual orientation on our case information database.

“We are also reviewing all first asylum decisions in these cases taken between April 1st and June 30th to evaluate the success of our new guidance and training.”

Paul Canning, of LGBT Asylum News, said: “This is good news and puts the UK ahead of most other countries. Why they’re not proudly announcing it is very odd. It means that in the future we can know whether the system is working or not based on some facts.”

“However this doesn’t affect cases now in the system and of course serious concerns remain about their treatment, as well as decreasing access to good legal advice.”