Suella Braverman makes ‘abhorrent’ claim migrants lie about LGBTQ+ identity to seek asylum

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman has claimed some migrants are lying about being LGBTQ+ when seeking asylum in the UK.

The Home Secretary sat down with ITV’s current affairs program Peston after her speech on the supposed failings of the international asylum system received heavy backlash.

She claimed they did so in order to receive “special treatment” in the UK.

In the speech, given at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, Braverman claimed that being discriminated against for being LGBTQ+ or a woman is not enough of a reason to qualify for asylum in the UK.

The comments saw her condemned by the UNHCR, LGBTQ+ asylum charities, MPs from both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, and Elton John.

Suella Braverman on ITV's Peston
Suella Braverman has alleged that asylum seekers are pretending to be LGBTQ+ to gain access to the UK. (ITV/Peston)

Now, Braverman has not only backed up those comments but doubled down and accused asylum seekers of lying about being LGBTQ+ in order to gain asylum status in the UK.

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“What we see operationally is that people do get in the system,” she told the ITV programme.

“They come to the UK, they purport to be homosexual in the effort to get in our system in the effort to get special treatment. That’s not fair and that’s not right.”

When Braverman was asked to clarify if she was suggesting that there were cases of asylum seekers lying about their sexuality, she replied: “I’m afraid we do see many instances where people purport to be gay when they’re not actually gay in order to get special treatment. It’s not the way our asylum system should work.”

Shortly after her interview aired on ITV, outrage broke out online. Viewers took to X (formerly Twitter), to condemn the Home Secretary’s stance and question where exactly she was pulling these harmful claims from.

“How exactly does Suella Braverman know whether asylum seekers are gay or ‘pretending to be homosexual’?” asked one dumbfounded viewer.

A second horrified viewer commented: “Suella Braverman now justifying her vile views with ‘the gays are fake’ claims is even lower for a person I thought was already at rock bottom. Abhorrent.”

And a third quipped that Braverman must be gifted with “superpowers” to be able to determine which LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are lying about their sexuality.

Also joining in on the discourse was sports broadcaster Gary Lineker, who shared the clip of Braverman’s interview to X and asked: “How could you possibly know if they are gay or not gay?”

And ITV Tonight presenter Paul Brand pointed out: “1.5 per cent of asylum claims last year referenced sexuality.

“If every single one of them was bogus and you refused them all, you’d still have to explain the backlog with the other 98.5 per cent of asylum claims.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Braverman responded to Elton John’s recent criticism of her.

Following the Home Secretary’s speech, Elton, his husband David Furnish, and the Elton John AIDS Foundation issued a joint statement to condemn her comments.

“We are very concerned about the home secretary’s comments stating how discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be reason enough to qualify for protection under international refugee laws,” it read.

“Nearly a third of all nations class LGBTQ+ people as criminals, and homosexuality is still punishable by death in 11 countries. Dismissing the very real danger LGBTQ+ communities face risks further legitimising hate and violence against them.

“Leaders need to provide more compassion, support, and acceptance for those seeking a safer future.”

In response to the “Rocket Man” singer’s statement, Braverman simply said: “I have huge admiration for Elton John, but what I would say is, we need to be honest about what’s actually happening on the ground. 

Suella Braverman on ITV's Peston
The Home Secretary responded to Elton John’s comments. (ITV/Peston)

“And, as I said in my speech, we need to be clear about what constitutes persecution. 

“Persecution is where people are being tortured, where they are receiving ill-treatment, where they are having their human rights violated in a monstrous and grotesque way.”

Braverman’s comments were so shocking that even members of her own political party have questioned her.

Speaking to Peston after the Home Secretary’s interview aired, Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood was eager to tell the current affairs programme: “I distance myself from some of those comments that I’ve just heard now, which are clearly designed for a particular audience, and doesn’t do the Prime Minister any good as we lead into our own conference.”