Downing Street protest in support of LGBT asylum seekers

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A protest designed to raise awareness of the plight of LGBT and hetrosexual asylum seekers will take place opposite Downing Street on Friday from 4.30pm, campaigners have announced.

The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation say individuals are still being deported back to countries where they face homophobic and transphobic persecution – and in some cases – they are also being subjected to physical and sexual abuse in UK detention centres.

Campaigners are calling on the government to investigate allegations of abuse against female detainees carried out by staff at Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire.

Edwin Sesange, co-ordinator of the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group said: “We strongly condemn the sexual abuse of vulnerable refugees. The Home Office has ultimate responsibility for these abuses. They happened in asylum detention centres under Home Office control. We are calling on the Prime Minister to condemn the abuses, reform the detention centre system, initiate a public inquiry and press police and prosecutors to bring charges against abusers.”

He added: “Human rights should be universal, no matter what the immigration status of the individual. The UK is a signatory to the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights, both of which protect asylum seekers.”

In February, a gay asylum seeker from Cameroon claimed he was assaulted by private security at Heathrow Airport. 

Mr Betondi suffered serious injuries to his eye and face – but Home Office officials said they were self-inflicted after he headbutted a seat on the plane.

The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation are urging the following:

1.  A judge-led public inquiry into the problems and abuses faced asylum seekers and immigrants – and the government’s agreement to implement the inquiry recommendations.

2. Full confidentiality and protection for all victims and witnesses.

3. The prosecution of those who have been involved in sex abuse and violence against asylum applicants.

4. Reform of the asylum detention centre system, to limit detainees to those who are a threat to the public. Better training and supervision of staff. More rights and means of redress for detainees.

S Chelvan, one of the country’s leading barristers specialising in asylum law and immigration told in August that at its worst the asylum system can appear indifferent to the plight of those fleeing homophobic and transphobic persecution.