This government has now confirmed it will send LGBTQI+ people who come to the UK seeking safety to Rwanda to process their asylum claims, despite the evidence it has found of ill treatment.

In the Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) for the policy published last night, the government accepts that trans women can face torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, yet merely says that their relocation to Rwanda must be considered on a case by case basis.

In relation to sexual orientation, the EIA states that “investigations point to ill treatment being more than one off, but it does not appear to be systemic” and mentions that it will monitor the abuse of LGBTQI+ people in order to manage the risk.

Rainbow Migration’s Legal and Policy Director, Sonia Lenegan, stated that “the EIA accepts that LGBTQI+ people in Rwanda are subject to abuse, yet the government intends to send them there regardless”, and added that “this government should clarify as a matter of urgency the precise level of mistreatment of LGBTQI+ people that they find to be acceptable”.

 

Arrest, prosecution and detention of LGBTQI+ people

In the document setting out the country information on general human rights, there are pages of examples of the arrest, prosecution and detention of LGBTQI+ people. This evidence is dismissed on the basis of an interview with an organisation that by its own admission “doesn’t know about the difference in treatment of different LGBT+ groups” and denies the mistreatment and harassment of LGBTQI+ people, despite all of the evidence to the contrary.

“It is notable that while other organisations that were interviewed by the UK government are named in the published interview notes, the “representatives of the LGBT+ community” that met with the Home Office on 5 April 2022 are not named, presumably for their own safety”, said Sonia Lenegan.

 

No evidence of deterrence

The EIA also states that they “do not consider relocation to Rwanda to be a penalty”, to which Sonia Lenegan said, “it is difficult to understand how the government squares that position with their assertion that the policy will act as a disincentive to small boat crossings, as this government has made clear is its intention”.

Despite the government pointing to Australia in the EIA as evidence that the policy will deter people arriving in the UK in small boats, the evidence relied on has been debunked several times.

 

Sending LGBTQI+ people into what is known to be a dangerous situation, with the promise only to “monitor” whether or not they are abused, is completely insufficient. The evidence published by this government makes it clearer than ever that it is unsafe to send LGBTQI+ people to Rwanda.

We are asking Priti Patel and Boris Johnson to ditch this deal with Rwanda immediately and to treat LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in the UK with compassion and dignity.