A hand waving LGBT flag

At Rainbow Migration we are increasingly concerned about the safety of LGBTQI+ people in inappropriate and unsafe shared asylum accommodation.  

In recent months, we have documented many concerns about room-sharing for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum and we have seen a sharp increase in the number of people accessing our services because they have experienced homophobic, biphobic or transphobic harassment and verbal, physical and sexual abuse.  

RAF Wethersfield, a former military site located Wethersfield is one of the unsafe facilities that this government is using to place people seeking asylum and together with other organisations, like Helen Bamber Foundation and Care 4 Calais, we have recently submitted a comprehensive report to Parliament to shed light on the dangers of using this site. We have highlighted the specific dangers of housing LGBTQI+ people seeking safety here in them.  

Outlined below are the critical issues we have raised, but for more in-depth information about the issues and our submission, please download our Evidence to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. 

  1. Housing people in prison-like conditions is cruel and risks further traumatising LGBTQI+ people who have had to flee unimaginable dangers and life-threatening situations. 
  2. Many LGBTQI+ people seeking safety here have been rejected by their families back home and may have limited support networks in the UK. Therefore, the geographic isolation is particularly hard for LGBTQI+ people, who need to keep in touch with or seek support from LGBTQI+ community groups or support networks. 
  3. The dangers of room sharing for LGBTQI+ people: In shared accommodation, LGBTQI+ people are often subject to abuse and mistreatment, which can further traumatise people who are seeking safety and protection. We have found homophobic, biphobic and transphobic harassment to be systemic in shared asylum accommodation. 
  4. We are also concerned that neither the Home Office nor accommodation providers are adequately recognising that LGBTQI+ people are vulnerable or at risk of harm in shared rooms, nor providing suitable accommodation as soon as they become aware of the fact. 

This government should ensure LGBTQI+ people are accommodated suitably and safeguarded from harm.  

Read the full Evidence to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

The Scrutiny Committee has now published its response to our joint submission. It has called on the Government to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of staff and residents at large sites like RAF Wethersfield, and especially those residents who are vulnerable. Their response also specifically draws upon our submission in criticising the unsuitability of RAF Wethersfield for the accommodation of asylum seekers due to its ‘isolated location, prison like surroundings and large number of residents’.

In their reply to that report, the Home Office has said that they screen all people seeking asylum to ‘protect vulnerable individuals and ensure they are placed in suitable accommodation’ and that vulnerable individuals, or those with ‘any specific needs’ would not be placed at RAF sites. We will continue to advocate for no LGBTQI+ people to be held in unsafe and unsuitable sites including RAF Wethersfield.