The Government is refusing to say how many gay asylum seekers it has actually accepted
The UK government has refused to disclose how many asylum applications it has actually accepted from LGBT people fleeing homophobic countries, amid reports of degrading treatment and Home Office challenges.
People can seek asylum in the UK on the grounds that they face persecution in their home country because of their sexuality or their gender identity.
However, the Home Office procedures for processing LGBT asylum seekers has been repeatedly criticised by campaigners over inconsistent standards that “humiliate” applicants, and often leave people facing deportation to homophobic countries.
One lesbian asylum seeker was told she couldn’t be gay because she has children, while another asylum seeker was compelled to show caseworkers explicit pictures of himself having gay sex to ‘prove’ his sexuality. Another bisexual man, who fled from persecution in his home country, had his application challenged by the Home Office because he said the T in LGBT stood for ‘Trans’ as opposed to ‘Transgender’.
Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven had tabled a question in the House of Lords to ask the Government to reveal “how many people claiming asylum in the last year did so on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; and of those, how many have been granted asylum”.
However, Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford refused to release the data – confirming the government does collect data on LGBT asylum seekers, but claiming it cannot be published due to “quality assurance” reasons.
The minister said: “I can say that the Home Office collects information that records whether a claim is based on sexual orientation… [however] the data are management information only, and they do not form part of our published statistics because they have not been quality assured to a sufficient standard.”
She claimed: “The Home Office is considering how data from its casework database may be assured and used to provide such information to a sufficiently accurate standard.”
Responding to a follow-up question about why the data cannot be made public, she claimed: “We do not feel that the management data are as yet sufficiently robust.”
The government was slammed by several peers for the comments.
Baroness Barker accused the Home Office of “sitting on this information for two years”, adding: “How many LGBT people have claimed asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation and how many of them have been denied?”
Labour’s Lord Cashman urged the government to work with the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group and Stonewall to address urgent concerns about the system.
When Lord Paddick asked “how this House can hold the Government to account if they refuse to publish the figures?”, Baroness Williams responded: ” I can only repeat the answer that I have now given three times.”
PinkNews has filed a Freedom of Information request for the Home Office data.