The UK’s ‘fast-track’ appeals system for asylum seekers has been ruled unlawful – which could be good news for LGBT asylum seekers battling deportation.
High Court Justice Nicol ruled that the Home Office’s system to “fast track” cases it believes have no merit contained “structurally unfairness”.
The Detained Fast Track system plays a key role in removal of asylum seekers, allowing the government to seek removal in as little as 22 days – and in the past has been strongly criticized by groups that represent LGBT asylum seekers, who say it does not give them long enough to prepare their case.
The judge ruled that the system must be quashed – but opted to stay his order, to allow the Home Secretary and Lord Chancellor time to appeal the decision.
Mr Justice Nicol said: “What seems to me to make the fast track rules structurally unfair is the serious procedural disadvantage which comes from the abbreviated timetable and curtailed case management powers, together with the imposition of this disadvantage on the [asylum seeker].”
Edwin Sesange of the Ugandan Out & Proud Diamond Group said the verdict creates hope of a fairer trial for Ugandans who are fleeing their country over homophobia.
He told PinkNews: “This is good news for many of our LGBTI asylum seekers.
“We have supported many LGB asylum seekers in that now unlawful system, but we have always had many difficulties. Others lost their cases because they couldn’t gather every evidence they needed within the given time limit.
“Many people who lost their cases within fast track appeal have won their cases within the other system.
“We urge the government to introduce a fairly and lawful system, and also review all the cases of all those LGBT and other asylum seekers that lost their cases in that system.”
The government said it plans to appeal the verdict.
Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May previously carried out a review of the way that LGBT cases are handled and implemented minor reforms – but asylum groups claim the system is still “extremely unfair”.