With the support of five other national LGBTQI+ charities, today we are launching ‘No Pride in Detention’, a campaign calling for an end to the immigration detention of LGBTQI+ people and a time limit to ensure no-one is detained for more than 28 days.

The campaign is launching during Pride month and at a time when unknown numbers of LGBTQI+ people are being held in immigration detention in the UK, as the government does not collect or monitor data on this. They are detained without judicial oversight, in prison-like conditions, and for an indefinite amount of time.

Detention is most often used to facilitate the removal of a person from the UK, in which case there must be a realistic prospect of removal within a reasonable timeframe. However, most people detained are instead released on bail or otherwise, their detention having served no purpose other than to isolate and traumatise them.

“Detention is awful for anyone, but our research found that for LGBTQI+ people the impact can be devastating. As well as being deprived of their freedom and cut off from support networks, they face LGBTQI-phobic bullying, discrimination and abuse from staff and others in detention”, explains Leila Zadeh, Executive Director at Rainbow Migration.

As part of their asylum process, LGBTQI+ people must “prove” their sexual orientation or gender identity by providing evidence. This turns into an even more difficult task when they are locked up. As Leila describes, “people in detention can’t visit LGBTQI+ venues, join support groups or attend Prides. In fact, detention is likely to force them back into the closet to stay safe while they are detained”.

Since 2016 the Home Office has recognised that trans and intersex people are particularly at risk of harm and should not be detained in most circumstances. “We are urging the government to extend this recognition to all LGBTQI+ people”, says Leila.


From indefinite detention to a 28-day limit

The campaign is also urging the government to establish a 28-day cumulative time limit on detention for everyone. As Leila explains, “the UK is the only country in Europe where people can be deprived of their freedom indefinitely for immigration purposes. This needs to end. It separates people from their families and causes long-term damage to their physical and mental health.”

Rainbow Migration’s ‘No Pride in Detention’ campaign is launching with the support of national LGBTQI+ charities Stonewall, Mermaids UK, LGBT Foundation, African Rainbow Family and Micro Rainbow.

“During the next few months we will be bringing more LGBTQI+ organisations and individuals on board to join us in the fight to end LGBTQI+ detention. We need to come together and show this government that the LGBTQI+ community won’t stand for some of its most marginalised members being locked up in places they aren’t safe ”, says Leila, and continues, “people should be supported to resolve their immigration status in the community, which is more humane, less damaging to people’s mental and physical health, and has been shown to produce better outcomes for less money. For LGBTQI+ people, this also means being able to live more openly and access specialist support from community LGBTQI+ organisations”.