UK: Theresa May orders review of ‘interrogation’ of gay asylum seekers

Theresa May (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Home Secretary Theresa May has ordered a review of the way asylum claims based on sexuality are processed, after facing harsh criticism for lapses.

A leaked report earlier this year showed that gay and lesbian asylum seekers were facing extensive “interrogation” about their sex lives.

Last year, the Home Affairs Select Committee brought to light cases where people were forced to hand over pornographic video evidence of them engaging in same-sex sexual activity.

In August 2013, Labour’s then Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant robustly defended the Home Office from claims that LGBT asylum seekers have been deported by officials in recent years.

Speaking to, the Labour MP said: “My experience thus far is that I have not known a decision [to] go in the wrong direction in the end.”

At the weekend Mrs May ordered John Vine, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, to conduct a review of the way claims are handled.

She wrote: “We do need to establish that the risk of persecution is real, and this will often depend on whether the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is as claimed. We seek to establish this at interview through questions about sexual orientation, not sexual behaviour.

“It was disappointing therefore to discover that we may not have followed our guidance in at least one case, which was brought to the attention of the media recently and where inappropriate questions appear to have been asked.

“We are committed to treating all asylum claimants with respect and dignity and we want to continue to improve on current practice in this area.”

The government had faced harsh criticism for inaction over the claims previously.

Questions to gay asylum seekers included: “Did you put your penis into [x]’s backside?”, and “When x was penetrating you, did you have an erection? Did [x] ejaculate inside you? Why did you use a condom?”