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Trangender equality report was a ‘missed opportunity for trans asylum seekers’

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Yesterday’s Transgender Equality report, published by the Women and Equality Select Committee, made over 30 reccomendations to improve the lives of transgender people in the UK. However, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group say it’s a ‘missed oportunity’ to talk about trans asylum seekers.

While the report was being put together, the UKLGIG testified that the needs of transgender refugees are often overlooked, stating that the Home Office fails to ensure that transgender asylum seekers are treated with respect and dignity.

Adam, a transgender asylum seeker, told the inquiry that he was refused asylum three times. He explained: “When I was interviewed, the Home Office’s interpreter told the official, ‘This is one of the strangest interviews I’ve ever done.’ The Home Office refused to believe that I am trans, they treated me like a liar. They continuously referred to me as a woman. I felt like they were attacking me.”

Responding to the report, Paul Dillane, executive director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group said: “While we sincerely hope the UK Government will implement these recommendations and act to ensure equality for trans people, we are disappointed that the vital needs of trans asylum seekers have been excluded.

“Trans asylum seekers are a highly marginalised and vulnerable group and their exclusion is a missed opportunity. Should not the vital needs of trans people fleeing human rights abuses and life threatening persecution be acknowledged? Should they not be protected in accordance with the law and treated with dignity and respect?

“Too many trans asylum seekers experience ignorance and humiliation in our asylum system, are wrongly refused protection due to poor decisions-making and unfairly incarcerated in immigration detention centres where bullying, abuse and harassment is rife. Their exclusion from this inquiry is regrettable and we have written to Maria Miller MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, to request our serious concerns be addressed.”

Another recently published report on welfare in immigration and vulnerable persons by Stephen Shaw, labelled the detention of transgender people in cells at Dover Immigration Removal Centre ‘wholly inappropriate’.

Mr Shaw said: “I am sympathetic to the argument that transsexual people are unsuited to detention given what I have seen for myself is the inability of IRCs to provide an appropriate, safe and supportive environment.”

In December, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, called for further research on the plight of transgender asylum seekers and refugees globally.

Words Nikolas Dost

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