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Queer asylum seekers likely due compensation after supreme court rules Home Office unlawfully imprisoned thousands

Josh Milton November 29, 2019
Home Office

LGBT+ rights campaigners complain of a "culture of disbelief” in the Home Office's treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers.(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

The Home Office “falsely imprisoned” countless queer asylum seekers who are now entitled to damages, the highest court in the UK ruled.

Five Supreme Court judges this week ruled that many dreamers who lost liberty at the hands of the government are viable for compensation packages that may run into millions of pounds, reported The Guardian.

Many refugees are survivors of torture or persecution, some queer seekers fleeing from countries where their very existence itself is illegal.

Around 2,000 people claim asylum each year based on sexual orientation and a fear of persecution in their home country, according to statistics.

Activists have welcomed the ruling as a “huge achievement”, one that, for those affected, they will “never forget”.

How did the ruling come about?

Thousands of seekers were detained between January 1, 2014 – when a European Union law called Dublin III was enforced – and March 15, 2017, when UK regulations changed.

The EU law meant that seekers reaching an EU country would have their fingerprints checked in a database.

If they were found to have first claimed asylum in another country, they would be sent there to have their claim processed.

The window of the Home Office in central London on January 23, 2008
The window of the Home Office in central London on January 23, 2008 (Cate Gillon/Getty Images)

But the Home Office locked up many refugees who were found to have a fingerprint match.

This is despite the law stating that only refugees deemed to be at “significant risk of absconding” should be incarcerated.

Five asylum seekers brought forward the supreme court case.

Justices ruled that the UK lacked policies in place to determine the “risk”, resulting in false incarcerations, many of whom were likely LGBT+.

The Home Office said: “We acknowledge the supreme court’s judgment and are considering the next steps.”

Compensation is something queer refugees will ‘never forget’, says activist.

Countless testimonies from asylum seekers and their legal aids have detailed a department that “persecutes” LGBT+ asylum seekers.

Leading to some human rights activists and lawmakers to denounce the body for its “humiliation” of rainbow refugees.

Reports have gradually revealed a Home Office playbook where department workers gauge a queer seeker’s application based on troubling methods.

Moreover, the Home Office refuses close to four out of five of LGBT+ claims – a figure that has steadily increased over the last few years.

Whitehall protest against deportion of asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi, who faces the death penalty for homosexuality if sent back to Iran, London March 2008 UK. (Photofusion/Peter Marshall/Universal Images Group/Getty)

Edwin Sesange, director of the African Equality Foundation, said in a statement: “This is a huge achievement for all those who were involved in bringing these injustices to light.

“We welcome this ruling by the court and thank the Judges for standing with those fleeing for their lives.

“Even though the victims might be compensated but the trauma of being falsely imprisoned by those who are supposed to provide them with safety is something that they might never forget.

“We hope that the Home office will never repeat such life threatening practices of locking up LGBT asylum seekers who are victims of torture among others.”

More: asylum, England, Home Office, immigration, Law, UK

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