Peter Tatchell / Human Rights Activist News Wire

Britain’s Asylum Shame

The UK's asylum system is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible. It is unjust, chaotic and inhumane.

Among the frequent victims are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) refugees who have fled extreme, Violent persecution in countries like Pakistan, Uganda, Iran, Somalia, Iraq, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Cameroon and Palestine.

The recent attempted deportation of the Iranian lesbian refugee, Pegah Emambakhsh, is typical of the inhumanities of Britain's asylum system.

Innocent asylum applicants who have committed no crime, including children, are held in asylum detention centres. They are detained like common criminals in prison-like conditions, pending a ruling on their claims. Some spend several months, or even a year or more, in detention. Those detained have fewer legal rights than a person charged with murder or rape.

Refugee agencies report persistent allegations of mistreatment in the detention centres; including allegations of racist and homophobic abuse, sexual harassment, physical assaults, deficient medical care and restricted access to legal representatives. Detained victims of torture often get little or no treatment and counselling, which prolongs their suffering and trauma.

Many asylum judges show little understanding of LGBT issues. They assume that if a person has been married they cannot be gay. This ignores the fact that in many traditional African, Asian and Middle Eastern societies LGBT people Get married because of family pressures and community expectations. Judges sometimes acknowledge that a person
has suffered homophobic or transphobic persecution, but still reject their application for asylum. They tell them it is safe for them to return to their home country because they can change their name, move to a remote region where no one knows them, and they can abstain from sex. This way, the judges argue, no one will ever know they are gay
and they will therefore not suffer further persecution!

The 'fast-track' asylum processing system does not give applicants adequate time to prepare their claims and gather corroborating medical and human rights evidence. Moreover, cuts in legal aid mean that solicitors no longer receive sufficient funding to prepare fully documented asylum applications. Not surprisingly, many asylum claims fail. This results in genuine refugees being labelled as bogus and deported back to their home countries to face further persecution.

There are reports of asylum deportees being violently restrained and incapacitated to force them onto planes. When they get back to their countries of origin, some are arrested, jailed and tortured, despite Home Office assurances that it was safe for them to return.

This is the harsh, cruel reality of the asylum system. The Labour government's priority is to cut asylum numbers, with little concern for the merits of individual cases. It is a policy devoid of justice or compassion.

To view the programme to go with this article, click on this link:


Talking With Tatchell is broadcast every Friday night at 8.30pm on the internet TV channel,

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