Are you an individual or group looking to support LGBTQI+ people fleeing persecution? Many people who are seeking asylum face additional hardships and barriers to accessing support whilst their claim is ongoing. LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum often face further challenges based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and/or sex characteristics.
We understand that everyone’s capacity to provide support will be different, so we have suggested a range of ways you can support LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum below. The list is by no means exhaustive, and we welcome further questions or suggestions about other ways to provide support – please feel free to contact us.
Safe, LGBTQI+-friendly accommodation
Asylum accommodation may be an option for people who have claimed asylum, and we can provide advice and support to access this. The accommodation is provided by the Home Office, is not normally LGBTQI+-specific, and people usually share spaces with many others. We recognise that this is not suitable for many LGBTQI+ people, and can lead to instances of social isolation and/or homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
Asylum accommodation is likely to be outside London and other major cities, which often limits people’s ability to access their LGBTQI+ social and support networks. If you have the space, contact Refugees at Home to see how you can help.
Lack of adequate financial support means LGBTQI+ people can face additional vulnerability to exploitation. Most people who are seeking asylum have ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) and no right to work. However, they may be eligible for financial Asylum Support, or other publicly funded services which are not classed as public funds under section 115 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The standard rate of financial Asylum Support is currently under £40 per week, which is around half of the basic benefit rate for an over 25-year-old in the UK with access to public funds.
If someone you are supporting wants to apply for Asylum Support, you can encourage them to read about their rights, and read up on them yourself. The Right to Remain Toolkit includes a useful Asylum Support section, and Asylum Support Appeals Project produces up-to-date factsheets on the various types of available support and their requirements. They/you can also contact Rainbow Migration for advice and support with Asylum Support applications and available support for people with additional vulnerabilities and/or social care needs.
Many people seeking asylum struggle with boredom and social isolation, and many who are LGBTQI+ also face barriers to accessing LGBTQI+-inclusive spaces. Providing emotional, friendship and social support as an individual or as part of a group can make a huge difference, whether you or your group are LGBTQI+ or not.
Write a supporting statement and/or provide evidence in court
LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum face the additional challenge of being expected to provide evidence of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and/or sex characteristics. One way to support your LGBTQI+ friend, partner, colleague, co-student or acquaintance, could be to write a supporting letter or statement that they can use as evidence as part of their asylum claim. Such statements are normally sent to the Home Office and can include key information, such as how you know the person, how long you have known them for, how you know they are LGBTQI+ and what they have told you or what you know about their fear of returning to their country of origin.
Please note that supporting statements may also be admitted in court if the asylum claim is refused and the case proceeds to appeal. If you decide to support an LGBTQI+ person with their asylum appeal, you can attend the person’s appeal hearing as a witness and answer questions based on the information that you provided in your statement. If you are concerned about your name or identity becoming public, you can ask the judge for anonymity. It is important that you speak to the lawyer of the LGBTQI+ person before the appeal hearing, so that they can help you finish your statement and address any concerns that you may have.
Help them to find suitable legal advice and representation
People who are claiming asylum may be eligible for free legal representation via Legal Aid. We recommend that LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum find a lawyer who specialises in LGBTQI+ asylum cases. We have a list of suitable lawyers on our website, and we also have a legal and a support service that can assist people.
A range of legal information and advice on the asylum process can be found in our ‘How to apply for asylum’ guide, which is available in nine languages.
Provide LGBTQI+-friendly translation
Language can be a huge barrier to many people seeking asylum, but it is often even more so for LGBTQI+ people, as people from their country of origin may not support them being LGBTQI+. If the person you are supporting does not speak English, please encourage them to access professional translation services and registered charities who may be able to support and assist.
Help them to access LGBTQI+-specific support
LGBTQI+ people are likely to have a number of additional support needs throughout the asylum process, which are linked to their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and/or sex characteristics. Rainbow Migration and other LGBTQI+ organisations offer a range of LGBTQI+-specific services, some of which are also specific to people who are claiming asylum.
You can offer support by directing LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum to our website and letting them know that we provide a range of services. They can also contact us directly. We also have a page which includes other organisations who can help.
Support Rainbow Migration
If you found this information useful, please consider making a donation to Rainbow Migration so we can continue to provide free advice and support to LGBTQI+ people fleeing persecution.