Big ben and the houses of parliament in london.

A new report on equality and the UK asylum process by the Women and Equalities Committee highlights that new legislation could put LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum at greater risk of harm.

Committee Chair, Caroline Nokes MP said: “We were disturbed by the Home Office’s inadequate management of risks of harm to asylum seekers with protected characteristics, including women, LGBT people, children and disabled people. Alarmingly, these risks will increase under the Government’s recent and planned reforms.”

Immigration detention and Rwanda

MPs are “deeply concerned that the current and planned reforms risk turning back the clock on policies intended to ensure detention is used only as a last resort, and to reduce the risks of harm to vulnerable people.” If the Refugee Ban Bill is passed into law, more people could be detained for longer periods of time. This would include LGBTQI+ people, who in detention face bullying, harassment and abuse, with serious consequences for their mental health.

The report recommends this government set out how it plans to mitigate the risks of harm to LGBTQI+ people in detention, and to collect and monitor data on where LGBTQI+ people are detained and for how long. At the moment, the government does not keep track of LGBTQI+ people in detention, which means that they cannot monitor and reduce the harm of detention to LGBTQI+ people.

MPs also expressed their worries about this government’s plans to send LGBTQI+ people to Rwanda and urged it to “set out how it intends to monitor and ensure those removed to Rwanda do not suffer harm or experience discrimination in that country”.

At Rainbow Migration, we have called out Rwanda 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 LGBTQI+ Rwandans have sought asylum in the UK.

“This report, for which Rainbow Migration gave oral and written evidence, is sending a very clear message to this government. The inhumane policies towards people seeking asylum in the UK have to stop immediately. This government’s legislation will put LGBTQI+ people seeking protection in dangerous situations, by detaining them in greater numbers and sending them to countries where they could face discrimination and violence”, said Leila Zadeh, Executive Director at Rainbow Migration, “instead, this government needs to focus on creating a compassionate and caring asylum system that treats people with kindness”.

Dangerous accommodation arrangements for LGBTQI+ people

The report also highlights that new contingency accommodation, such as military barracks and barges, being used by this government to house people wanting to rebuild their lives in the UK, is “unacceptable from both safeguarding and equalities perspective”, as it puts LGBTQI+ people at heightened risk of hate crime.

Leila Zadeh gave examples of the harassment and abuse experienced by LGBTQI+ people in government-provided accommodation. She explained that in the case of one man in military barracks, he was “ harassed by the others there, and there was no private space—the showers were communal, and they were sleeping in dorms, effectively. We worked very hard with other partner NGOs to try to get this person out but, to our knowledge, vulnerable people are being placed in accommodation like barracks and other forms of contingency accommodation which are completely unsuitable.


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