Gay man seeking asylum in UK terrified by Suella Braverman’s Home Office return

An image showing a man in rainbow colours with his back turned on the left with Suella Braverman pictured on the right.

A gay man currently seeking asylum in the UK has said he is “scared” after Rishi Sunak reappointed Suella Braverman as home secretary.

Zarith, whose country of origin is being withheld to protect his identity, came to the UK in search of safety and security. He saw the country as a “champion of human rights”, but he’s now worried for the future with Braverman in the Home Office.

Braverman has said it is her “dream” to see migrants deemed “illegal” by the state deported to Rwanda under a highly controversial scheme that was spearheaded by her predecessor Priti Patel.

Activists have repeatedly warned that LGBTQ+ people could face persecution in Rwanda, where queerness is largely not accepted – but the Home Office is still trying to push ahead with the deal, even in the face of legal challenges.

Zarith was “shocked” when he learned that prime minister Rishi Sunak had reappointed Braverman as home secretary.

“When Rishi was saying something about integrity and then he reappointed Suella after it was found that she breached the ministerial code, I was shocked to be honest,” Zarith tells PinkNews.

“Having gone through the system, claiming asylum, actually it makes me kind of scared as well. Are we going to have an even worse time than before?”

Zarith is deeply concerned about Braverman’s plan to push ahead with the Rwanda plan. He fears the government is damaging the UK’s reputation as a “champion of human rights” so it can “score political points”.

“I believe that the UK or the Home Office should have a kind and caring policy, but at the same time they should also be just and fair,” Zarith says.

Home secretary Suella Braverman wears a blue outfit as she speaks at the conservative party conference

Home secretary Suella Braverman. (Getty)

“There really needs to be a change in the way they look at us. We are not seeking asylum, we are people seeking asylum. We need protection. We just didn’t want to die in our own countries for being who we are.”

If Zarith had the chance to sit down with Suella Braverman, he would tell her to listen to those who have made difficult journeys to make it to the UK.

“We are people. We have lots to give. We want to add value to the country that we are in, and I’m really sad if the UK is going to [regress] in terms of human rights and protection for asylum seekers. That would be a really dark day for the UK.”

Suella Braverman will put LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum in ‘greater danger’

Sunak faced criticism when he reappointed Braverman as home secretary just hours after he promised to bring “integrity and accountability” to No 10 as prime minister.

Braverman, who has been vocal about her “gender critical” views, had resigned her post less than a week earlier in the dying hours of Liz Truss’ premiership.

In her resignation letter, Braverman conceded that she had sent an official document from her personal email “to a trusted parliamentary colleague” – a move that constituted a breach of the ministerial code.

Hopes that Sunak would appoint a fresh face to the Home Office were quickly dashed when she emerged from No 10 with the home secretary brief as his reshuffle got underway.

Sunak defended Braverman’s reappointment during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday (26 October), saying “she made an error or judgement” and that she had “accepted her mistake”.

The decision to reappoint Braverman as home secretary was met with frustration from Rainbow Migration, a charity that works with LGBTQ+ people who are seeking asylum.

“We are disappointed to learn that Rishi Sunak has decided to reappoint Suella Braverman as home secretary, just a week after her resignation for breaching the ministerial code,” a spokesperson said.

“During the short period she held that position, she expressed her intentions to ban people crossing the Channel from claiming asylum here and to press ahead with the cruel plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda.

“Both plans will put LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in even greater danger.

“We urge the new home secretary to reconsider and reverse the dangerous and ineffective policies of her predecessor and to create a kind and caring asylum system.”

A Home Office spokesperson defended its Rwanda plan, claiming it will enable people to “build a new life” after being deported there.

“Our new, world-leading migration partnership with Rwanda will see those who make dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys to the UK relocated to Rwanda and, if recognised as refugees, they will be supported to build a new life there.

“Our assessment concluded that LGBT+ people did not face a real risk of persecution. The overall findings were that Rwanda is fundamentally a safe and secure country with a track record of supporting asylum seekers, including working with the UN Refugee Agency which said the country has a safe and protective environment for refugees.”

While homosexuality is not criminalised in Rwanda, same-sex sexual attraction is still seen as taboo – public attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people are not kind.

Even the UK government’s own website notes that homosexuality is “frowned on” by many in Rwanda and that LGBTQ+ people may experience “discrimination and abuse, including from local authorities”.

A gay refugee from Rwanda recently told PinkNews that it was like “getting out of hell” when he finally left his home country behind.