LGBT asylum group welcomes Labour’s pledge to reform system

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A charity that supports gay and lesbian asylum seekers has welcomed the Labour party’s pledge to reform the system for people seeking asylum.

As part of the party’s LGBT manifesto, which was launched at an event in Brighton today, it pledged to “review the procedures for asylum seekers fleeing persecution for their sexuality or gender identity, to ensure the rules are upheld fairly and humanely”.

Asylum laws have long been criticised for the often-degrading and unbalanced ‘tests’ that LGBT asylum seekers are subjected to.

The UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group, which works to support people who have fled their country due to their sexuality, welcomed the move.

The group’s executive director Paul Dillane said: “This pledge is most welcome and is a sign of progress within the Labour Party.

“The last Labour administration’s record on the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers was atrocious. UKLGIG exposed that 98-99% of lesbian and gay asylum seekers were refused and told to go back to countries like Iran and Uganda and be ‘discreet’.

“Unknown numbers of people, including our own clients, were forcibly removed from the UK and effectively told to get back in the closet and conceal their sexual or gender identity.

“As the Supreme Court later ruled, that was entirely unacceptable. LGBT asylum seekers continue to experience disbelief and discrimination in the UK.

“Increasing numbers are locked up indefinitely in immigration detention centres where they are subjected to bullying, abuse and harassment.

“We need to see real leadership from whoever wins the next election to ensure LGBT people whose lives are at risk are protected and treated with dignity and respect.”

Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May previously carried out a review of the system, and implemented a number of reforms – but UKLGIG says the system is still ‘extremely unfair’.