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Gay asylum seekers need greater legal protection

There has been a call for greater protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) asylum seekers who, after facing extreme stigmatisation, isolation and physical and mental harm in their countries of origin, are put under increasing pressure to ‘prove’ their sexual orientation.

Delivering the 11th Annual Stonewall Lecture hosted by the Law Society, S Chelvan claimed that the UK has not done enough to protect LGBT asylum seekers.

A 2010 landmark ruling found that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals should be allowed to stay in the UK if they are not able to live openly and freely without persecution in their home country.

But asylum seekers are now put under increasing pressure to ‘prove’ their sexual orientation, with some governments considering tick-the-box type questionnaires, Chelvan argued. There are currently 80 countries that criminalise consensual same-sex activity, while five countries impose the death penalty.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said:

‘We know from our work with the Foreign Office and equality campaigners worldwide that in many countries LGBT people live in real fear for their lives. When they flee from persecution it’s absolutely right that countries like Britain should treat them with respect and care. We can’t return to a situation where people were being deported to countries where they were at risk of being executed just because of the way they were born.’


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