Last week, the government announced yet another cruel asylum bill that punishes people seeking to rebuild their lives in the UK.

Among other things, the bill proposes to send people who have fled life-threatening situations in their home countries, and sought safety and protection from the UK, to a list of countries (page 64) that includes countries that are not safe for LGBTQI+ people.

For instance, Ghana is set as one of the countries that is deemed to be safe for men, however as recently as December 2022, Adams, a bisexual man from Ghana that we supported was granted asylum in the UK. He told us that “generally society [in Ghana] is very homophobic, including much of my family, who wanted me to change. I was violently attacked in the street on several occasions, and I knew it wasn’t safe for me stay in Ghana as an openly bisexual man”.

Another country deemed safe to send men seeking safety in the UK is Nigeria. However, in 2021 government statistics show that up to 50 people were granted asylum on the grounds of their sexual orientation (no gender breakdown is provided). Last year, Joel, a gay activist from Nigeria, described how a law passed in 2014 “prohibits same-sex marriage and ruthlessly punishes LGBT+ people in Nigeria. In addition to prohibiting same-sex marriage, the law legitimised oppression and was used by authorities to justify persecution”, and added that “citizens can carry out ‘jungle justice’ without repercussions; lynching and murder of LGBT+ people is a common occurrence”.

Rwanda is among the countries in the list as well, which we have repeatedly called out as a country where LGBTQI+ people are subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse. The situation for LGBTQI+ people in Rwanda is so poor that it is a source country for people seeking asylum in the UK based on their sexual orientation, albeit in low numbers, and Rainbow Migration has previously provided support to LGBTQI+ people from Rwanda. Innocent Uwimana, a gay man from Rwanda, has written about how dangerous it is for LGBTQI+ people there and urged the government to ditch the proposal.


Increased risk of immigration detention 

The new bill also greatly extends the powers to hold people in immigration detention, whilst simultaneously restricting their ability to challenge this. This will result in a vast increase in the number of people who could be locked away, which will include LGBTQI+ people, who we know are at additional risk of harm in detention centres.

Leila Zadeh, Executive Director at Rainbow Migration said: “By introducing this heartless and cruel bill, this government is sending a message that it doesn’t care about the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQI+ people seeking protection here. We have already received calls from LGBTQI+ people expressing distress about the potential impact of the bill on their lives, telling us they feel ‘unwelcome’ here”.

We are urging this government to stop this inhumane and dangerous bill immediately and instead focus on creating a compassionate and caring asylum system that treats people with kindness.