Current Affairs

Supreme Court to rule on UK’s ‘discretion’ policy for gay asylum seekers

PinkNews Staff Writer July 6, 2010
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The Supreme Court will issue a decision tomorrow on a test case on the UK’s policy of telling gay and lesbian asylum seekers to go home and be discreet.

Gay asylum campaigners say that the Home Office frequently tells gay asylum seekers that they can return to homophobic countries if they are “discreet” or relocate.

Two cases are currently being considered by the court, involving one man from Cameroon and one from Iran. Both are appealing against previous court decisions barring them from gaining asylum.

The case of the Cameroonian man, known only as HT, will received a judgment tomorrow.

He is appealing against a tribunal decision which could he could be sent home despite being attacked after he was seen kissing his partner.

Gay asylum campaigners are planning to hold a demonstration outside the Supreme Court at 9am tomorrow.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees criticised the UK today for the policy.

Alexandra McDowall, the UNHCR’s legal officer in London, told BBC News that the discretion test “introduces an element that shouldn’t be there”.

“Would we have asked a Jew to hide in the attic to avoid being sent to the concentration camps?,” she said.

“Persecution does not cease to be persecution just because an individual can take avoiding action by being discreet.”

Speaking in May, Angela Mason, the patron of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, told the Guardian: “It seems that the Home Office are routinely refusing applications on the grounds that lesbians and gay men can go back and be ‘discreet’ or ‘relocate’.

“Decisions are being made by Home Office case owners who lack essential training on dealing with such claims … The result is that lesbian and gay asylum seekers who are already experiencing persecution may also face discrimination in our own country.”

Earlier this year, an Amnesty International report claimed that the UK and several other European countries were breaching international law on returning vulnerable Iraqi asylum seekers.

According to the report, women, ethnic minorities and gays, or those perceived to be gay, are most likely to be at risk of violence and persecution in the country.

Amnesty accused the UK, along with several other countries, of forcibly returning “scores” of Iraqis to dangerous areas in the country, breaking international rules.

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