Labour’s Angela Eagle: Current asylum guidelines for LGBT people are ‘daft and ignorant’

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

PinkNews Exclusive
Labour’s Shadow Leader of the House of Commons Angela Eagle has slammed Home Office guidelines for LGBT asylum seekers, branding them ‘daft’ and ‘ignorant’.

The Labour Party this week launched its LGBT manifesto, which included plans to review the process surrounding applications for asylum “on the basis of persecution for sexuality or gender identity”, after a number of controversial cases.

Speaking to PinkNews at the launch in Brighton yesterday, Ms Eagle – one of only two out lesbians in the Commons – said of the current system: “There are some daft decisions in terms of how they decide whether you are gay or not, which are about ignorance about what being gay actually is.

“That’s why we want a review to check how we can do this properly, in a way that is respectful and accurate.”

“We need to come up with a structure that works better than that old caricature that, for example, says that if you are a lesbian you can’t have children… I mean how ignorant is that?

“We also need a broad, global view of what it means to be gay and lesbian, and the kinds of lives gay people are living internationally, in extremely hostile environments where you can be not just put in jail, but killed – which is why the role of an LGBT rights envoy is so integral.”

Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May previously carried out a review of the system and implemented a number of reforms – but pressure groups maintain the system is still ‘extremely unfair’ to LGBT people.

Ms Eagle also discussed UKIP’s opposition to inclusive relationship education to primary school pupils. UKIP’s manifesto claims inclusive SRE would “encourage experimentation”.

The politician said: “That’s the old argument… [UKIP] say that people experiment when given more information, whereas Labour believes it’s feelings that make people do that.

“We need to give young people the appropriate information regarding sexuality to ensure they understand their own, as well as their peers’, and that young people aren’t discriminated against because they are different.

“Labour wants to increase the self-esteem in young trans and gay people and reduce the risk of self-harm, alienation and suicide, which is alarmingly high. Education is one way in which we can do this. Education can never be a bad thing.”

Asked whether Labour had any plans to introduce a statutory, legislative ban on controversial ‘gay cure’ therapies, Ms Eagle responded: “It actually says in the manifesto that we disagree with gay cure therapy; no public money will be spent on it.

“We shall be monitoring it further and go from there. If gay cure therapies are actively harming or abusing people, we’ve got to see if we can allow them to go on.

“We certainly don’t approve of gay cure therapy and don’t support them.”

The manifesto pledges that public money will not be spent on ‘gay cure’ therapies, but does not back a statutory ban.

Previously, Sir Ian McKellen made a surprise endorsement of the LGBT manifesto – which recommends his long-time friend and Stonewall co-founder Lord Cashman for the new role of LGBT rights envoy.

Labour leader Ed Miliband recently pledged to be a “warrior” for LGBT rights.