The government has announced that they intend to send people who are seeking asylum in the UK to Rwanda and have their asylum claims processed there. This will include LGBTQI+ people who have fled life-threatening situations in their home countries.  

We find it extremely concerning as there is widespread evidence of ill-treatment and abuse faced by LGBTQI+ people in Rwanda. For instance, Human Rights Watch reported last year that:  

Rwandan authorities rounded up and arbitrarily detained over a dozen gay and transgender people, sex workers, street children, and others in the months before a planned June 2021 high-profile international conference.” 

People interviewed who identified as gay or transgender said that security officials accused them of “not representing Rwandan values.” They said that other detainees beat them because of their clothes and identity. Three other detainees, who were held in the “delinquents’” room at Gikondo, confirmed that fellow detainees and guards more frequently and violently beat people they knew were gay or transgender than others.” 

Nizeyimana Seleman, Executive Director of Hope And Care Organization, a Rwandan group that works to increase educational opportunities and health services to LGBTQ youth and sex workers, is quoted as saying that: “Homosexuality is not criminalized in Rwanda, but many LGBTI people keep their sexuality and gender identity secret in an attempt to avoid rejection, discrimination and abuse, which in the long run inevitably denies them their basic human rights. 

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 we have previously provided support to LGBTQI+ people from Rwanda.

The worrying reports come after last week, the House of Lords confronted MPs for a second time and amended the Nationality and Borders Bill again. On offshore processing, Lords’ amendments made it a requirement for the government to name the country where they plan to send people seeking asylum as well as to reveal the cost of the plans, and to obtain approval from Parliament before proceeding.  

These amendments won’t solve all the issues with the Bill, but they will certainly make this government think twice before sending LGBTQI+ people to remote offshore asylum camps.  

It is therefore essential that we keep the pressure on MPs until the 20 of April, when the Nationality and Borders Bill returns to the House of Commons 

We are asking MPs to use their vote to protect LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, and to support the Lords amendments on offshore processing . Will you help by writing to your MP?  

You can find your MP and their email address on the parliament website and below is a template email you could use. Make sure that you include your full name and address at the bottom of the email to show you are a constituent – otherwise your MP is unlikely to respond. 

Dear {MP NAME},   

As one of your constituents, I am writing to you today because I am concerned about the effects that the Nationality and Borders Bill will have on LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in the UK.  

I understand that the government is proposing to send people who come to the UK seeking safety from persecution to Rwanda to process their asylum claims offshore. For LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, this will be a disastrous policy – there is widespread evidence from Human Rights Watch and others that LGBTQI+ people face discrimination and abuse in Rwanda and may have to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity. We cannot allow people who have fled persecution because they are LGBTQI+ to be sent offshore and put in further peril.  

I am asking you to help stop this from happening by supporting Lords amendments 53B, 53C and 53D when the Bill returns to the House of Commons on the 20 of April 2022. 

Please let me know how you will vote on these amendments and if there is anything else you can do to help stop this from happening. 

I look forward to hearing from you.   

Yours sincerely,   

{YOUR FULL NAME AND ADDRESS}, 

Rwanda is not safe for LGBTQI people