Two women sitting on a couch, advocating for a kind and caring system for LGBT people seeking asylum.

Innocent grew up in Rwanda and came to the UK 20 years ago to start a new life free from harm here. In Rwanda he routinely faced bullying and abuse at school. To make this stop, he even tried to change the way he walked and talked, “but nothing I did seemed to make things better”, he says.  

Like him, many LGBTQI+ people facing persecution in their countries of origin decide to come to the UK seeking to rebuild their lives free from abuse and discrimination. And supporting people who need help is the right thing to do.  

However, by making a deal to send people arriving in the UK to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed there, Priti Patel and Boris Johnson have sent a message that anyone who attempts to create a safe life for themselves in the UK will instead be punished. 

This week, the High Court is hearing a challenge to the lawfulness of this policy, and Liz Truss has become the new Prime Minister.  

We won’t know the judge’s decision until the end of October, but with new leadership comes an opportunity to leave Boris Johnson’s and Priti Patel’s cruel legacy behind, to scrap this dehumanising deal and to build a kind and caring asylum system that welcomes people seeking safety in the UK.  

Nobody should be forced away, but evidence shows that LGBTQI+ people, like Innocent, are particularly at risk in Rwanda. In its Equality Impact Assessment  for the policy, this government accepted that investigations pointed to ill treatment of LGB people, and that trans women can face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  

The UNHCR expressed concerns about discrimination towards LGBQTI+ people who apply for asylum in Rwanda, “including the fact that some LGBTIQ+ persons are denied access to asylum procedures.” 

On top of that, Rwanda is a country from which LGBTQI+ people flee because they are persecuted for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In fact, we have provided support to LGBTQI+ people from Rwanda. 

Instead of punishing people seeking asylum here by sending them away, this new government has an opportunity to start over and to create a kind and caring asylum system.  

As Innocent says, “why can’t the Government protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum who would have a chance to rebuild their lives in the UK?” 

Here are a few things you can do today: