Responding to a PinkNews interview with Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant, Green MP Caroline Lucas says the government must do more to ensure that the UK Border Agency does not deport LGBT asylum seekers back to countries where they are at risk of homophobic persecution.

Speaking to PinkNews.co.uk on Tuesday, Mr Bryant said: “My experience thus far is that I have not known a decision [to] go in the wrong direction in the end.”

He also said: “In all asylum cases we are trying to do two things: protect the vulnerable and protect the British taxpayer. Because there was certainly in the late 1990s a significant number of people who were using the asylum system as an alternative way of being an economic migrant – and that’s not what asylum is there for”.

Writing for PinkNews.co.uk, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell disputed the Labour MP’s defence of UKBA and said: “Contrary to what is claimed, the asylum system is still continuing to fail LGBT refugees. It is rigged to reject as many asylum claimants as possible. Many are imprisoned in detention centres, despite being innocents who have committed no crime. Others are fast-tracked, which gives them no time to prepare a proper asylum application.”

According to the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), 98-99% of claims made by LGBT asylum seekers were rejected in 2010 – compared to 73% for claims made on other grounds.

Responding to Mr Bryant’s comments, Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion told PinkNews.co.uk: “The UK has a clear duty to the international community to protect LGBT people at risk of persecution and violence in their home country, so it is deeply worrying that there is so little information about what happens to individuals in the event they are deported.

“My efforts as an MP to follow up with the Foreign Office and other government agencies on individual cases of deportees potentially facing homophobic persecution have come up against a brick wall.”

She added: “If we want to be sure that we are not condemning LGBT people who seek asylum on these shores to a tragic fate, the government should do far more to track deportees and provide guarantees of their safety – as well as doing everything possible to ensure that UKBA handles each case fairly, sensitively and with an open mind.”