Justice Minister: Tory plans on Europe could threaten rights of LGBT asylum seekers

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Lib Dem Justice Minister Simon Hughes says the government has made progress in the way it approaches the issue of LGBT asylum, but this could be undermined by Tory plans on Europe.

“Now the big debate is coming down the track,” the senior Lib Dem MP told PinkNews.co.uk.

“I’m not going to mince my words, there is a difference of view, the Tories don’t like the idea that the UK Supreme Court can have a say over Parliament, they don’t like the idea that we have signed up to a European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and have international obligations”.

Mr Hughes added: “I am not too naive to think that the gains we have won could not be under threat in some respects”.

The Conservatives have hinted at withdrawing from the European Court and Convention of Human Rights and opting instead for a British bill of human rights.

Paul Dillane, executive director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), told PinkNews that progress has been made in improving the way LGBT asylum cases are handled, but the system is still “extremely unfair”.

Mr Hughes said greater improvements were needed when it came to the decision-making process.

He also questioned the length of time claimants were held in detention for and suggested banning them from work during the process was counterproductive.

The Justice Minister stressed the importance of waiting for the publication of a review into LGBT asylum policy by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, Sir John Vine.

Implementing its findings would be the task of a government formed after the 2015 general election, Mr Hughes said.

The MP spoke to PinkNews last week at the production of Eye of a Needle at the Southwark Playhouse.

The play explores the challenges faced by LGBT asylum seekers. It was inspired by the real case of Ugandan campaigner Brenda Namigadde.