two gay men kissing

A new report published this week has found that Home Office targets are preventing asylum decision-makers from adequately assessing claims based on sexual orientation.

The report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration reveals that an internal Home Office review in 2019 found that there had been a widespread failure to gather the information needed to enable a robust decision to be made LGB asylum claims.

The review also highlighted that claims based on sexual orientation can require an extensive interview or a longer period of analysis and reflection than other cases in order to reach a decision, but that this was being hampered by weekly productivity targets for staff.

In addition, the Chief Inspector found decision records showing a lack of consideration of the fact that not every LGB person who is seeking asylum is comfortable or able to express their emotions articulately, including to a decision-maker who they don’t know or through an interpreter.

Evidence provided by stakeholders and included in the report suggest that too often LGBTQI+ claims are held to a higher standard of proof than the “reasonable degree of likelihood”, which is required in asylum claims at the present time.

An internal review by the Home Office in 2020 had similarly concluded that improvements were needed in application of the standard of proof.

We warned that the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is making its way through parliament, will increase the standard of proof to a higher level of “balance of probabilities”, meaning that that LGBTQI+ people will face an even higher hurdle than they currently do to “prove” their sexual orientation.

Our Executive Director, Leila Zadeh said “as the Nationality and Borders Bill is discussed in parliament, this report is a timely reminder of how incredibly difficult it already is for LGBTQI+ people who are fleeing persecution to ’prove’ who they are in order to get safety in the UK”, and added, “if the Bill passes with this clause, more LGBTQI+ people will be refused asylum and face return to countries where they will be persecuted and their lives will be at risk”.