We are devastated to witness the passage of the cruel Rwanda bill into law by this government. By pushing forward with this legislation, this government has signed off a policy to banish and abandon people who fled to the UK, seeking to find safety here.

Although the UK’s highest court ruled that Rwanda is not safe, this government has remained determined to pass a cruel bill and fly people who have already been tortured and escaped death thousands of miles away to a place where they have no connections and where they will be in danger.

For two years since this government’s inhumane plan was first announced, we have repeatedly warned that Rwanda is a country where LGBTQI+ people are subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse.

The UK government’s own website states that LGBT people in Rwanda are abused, including by local authorities. The situation for LGBTQI+ people in Rwanda is so poor that people have sought asylum in the UK based on their sexual orientation.

There is widespread evidence of ill-treatment and abuse faced by LGBTQI+ people in Rwanda. It is a disgrace that this government is willing to send LGBTQI+ people, who have fled life-threatening situations in their home countries and sought safety and protection in the UK, to another country where they would be in further danger.

Leila Zadeh, Executive Director at Rainbow Migration, said: It is dystopian that this government has passed a law that ignores facts and declares contrary to evidence that Rwanda is a safe country. Most of us welcome people who have fled unimaginable horrors, but instead this government is intent on sending them to danger.” 

Innocent, a gay man from Rwanda, who came to the UK 20 years ago, said: “Having experienced the discrimination faced by LGBTQI+ people – or those perceived to be sexual minorities in Rwanda – I am shocked that the UK would deport people from our community there”.

Rwandan LGBTQI+ activists have also warned: “We don’t understand how the UK government would send LGBTQI+ people here knowing that they will face discrimination. … LGBTQI+ people face stigmatisation and abuse in Rwanda every day, and there are many cultural and religious factors which fuel hatred against LGBTQI+ people in Rwandan society.”

A gay man from Guatemala, who was recently granted refugee status, said: “It feels like they don’t consider you human enough to provide you with a home, to give you a place to live. It feels like you are this problem that nobody wants to deal with, so you get to be tossed around from country to country, which gives you such a hopelessness feeling.”

Rainbow Migration will continue working tirelessly to ensure that LGBTQI+ people seeking safety here are properly supported, able to settle and can challenge each and every attempt to send them to an unknown country, where they don’t have any connections or support.

We also call on this government to get in line with public sentiment, to ditch this heartless Rwanda plan and other cruel policies, and instead create a more humane and compassionate asylum system so that people can rebuild their lives in safety.