LSE holds debate competition focussing on LGBT asylum seekers

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A top London university has held its annual debate competition, named in honour of one of the driving forces behind same-sex marriage.

The London School of Economics (LSE), held its annual Featherstone Sexual Orientation and Gender Moot.

The competition is named after Baroness Feathersone, a Lib Dem peer who was one of the first to push for same-sex marriage.

LSE holds debate competition focussing on LGBT asylum seekers

This year’s moot focussed on gay asylum, and over a hundred students weighed in on the case of a fictional asylum seeker, Karim Nasri.

His story focussed around being gay, and fearing for his life if he were to be deported from the UK.

Students argued both sides, including making submissions on behalf of the Hom Secretary.

Organisers said the moot this year “highlighted the deep injustices faced by LGBT+ asylum seekers in the UK, including how asylum seekers are asked deeply personal questions about their sex lives if in order to prove their sexual orientation.”

Workshops and talks were also held alongside the moot.

The Saturday kicked off with a workshop on sexual orientation discrimination and religious freedom given by Sarah Crowther, the barrister who represented Ashers Bakery in the gay cake case.

It also includeda seminar on LGBT+ family law from Dr Bianca Jackson, head of the Alternative Families Practice at Coram Chambers. Finally, there was a workshop on trans rights in the UK and US, given by Michelle Brewer (Garden Court) and David Bufton (Linklaters) from the recently launched Trans Equality Legal Initiative, and Corey Stoughton, a leading US civil rights lawyers who until recently led the Obama administration’s work on trans rights. There was also an NGO area where students could find out more about how to get involved with Stonewall, the Human Dignity Trust, Galop and other LGBT+ rights NGOs.

At the moot’s closing party at Garden Court Chambers, Baroness Featherstone gave a speech before handing over hosting duties to drag artist Kitty Monroe.

David Bufton, Chair of Linklaters’ LGB&T group commented that “Linklaters is proud to once again be the gold sponsor for the LSE-Featherstone LGBT+ Moot following the highly successful inaugural competition last year. Judging the final round alongside esteemed experts in the field of asylum law was an absolute joy and the standard of talent and passion this year was extremely high.”

LSE holds debate competition focussing on LGBT asylum seekers

Leading LGBT+ asylum barrister S Chelvan (No5 Chambers), who judged the final added: “Both teams displayed high-quality research and preparation, strong advocacy skills, including the ability to address difficult questions from the mock bench. The BPP Law School team were unanimously held to be the overall winners, evidencing the added skills of flair and compassion, for one of the most vulnerable groups in our LGBT+ community, those seeking asylum.”

Baroness Featherstone described it as an “enormous honour” to be associated with the moot and hoped that “many of the more than 100 students who competed in the oral rounds will be inspired by their involvement in this competition, to continue to help advance LGBT+ equality through representation or advisory work, whether pro bono or paid, or perhaps through involvement in politics.”