15 LGBT+ Syrian refugees are taking legal action against the UK’s Home Office as they claim that they have been abandoned by the refugee resettlement scheme.
The refugees—who live in Turkey—were accepted on the scheme two years ago but have yet to be resettled in the UK. They claim that their lives are in danger in Turkey due to rampant homophobia and transphobia, according to the Guardian.
Other refugees accepted on the scheme waited between three to five months to be relocated to the UK, the newspaper reported.
LGBT+ refugees say homophobia is rampant in Turkey
Refugees who spoke to the publication said that life in Turkey is extremely difficult and that homophobia is rampant. Some live in safe houses and are forced to live “double lives.”
They claim that their lives are in danger from strangers on the street and from their families, many of whom do not accept LGBT+ people.
“Ministers must urgently improve the speed and quality of decisions on asylum claims.”
– Refugee Action’s Stephen Hale
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One of the refugees said he knows somebody who has been waiting two years to be relocated under the refugee resettlement programme. He has been stabbed twice because of his sexual orientation.
They said they feel abandoned by the Home Office in the UK and live in daily fear of homophobic or transphobic attacks.
Other refugees are waiting on the Home Office to make decisions on their claims for six months or more
The UK government introduced the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement programme in 2015 with an intention to bring 20,000 Syrians into the UK for protection. The United Nation’s Refugee Agency assesses cases before referring them to the Home Office.
Despite this, many refugees have found themselves in limbo as they wait for the Home Office to meet their obligations and bring them to safety.
The refugees are being represented by Duncan Lewis solicitors. Sheroy Zaq, lead solicitor on the case, told PinkNews: “Our clients have already been accepted onto the resettlement scheme. As such, the Home Office is aware that they are vulnerable refugees, at heightened risk in Turkey.
“They have told us that they simply cannot wear a mask any longer; they want to be themselves, in public and in private. It is sincerely hoped that the UK takes heed of this request and acts with an element of urgency in ensuring that our clients are brought to the UK at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Refugee Action, a UK group that advocates for refugee rights, said in February that there was a record number of people waiting six months or more for the Home Office to make a decision on their applications for refuge.
The group’s chief executive Stephen Hale said: “Ministers must urgently improve the speed and quality of decisions on asylum claims.
“Ministers must also let people work, if no decision has been made on their claim after six months. This simple change would vastly improve the lives of the individuals and families currently forced to live in a constant state of anxiety and frustration.”