Can LGBT Individuals Claim Asylum In The UK?
The UK is one of the most progressive countries in the West regarding LGBTQIA+ rights, and therefore, it has become a haven for those who are escaping persecution based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Yet, while this is the case, the Home Office’s approach to LGBTQIA+ asylum claims is something that is a hot topic and has stirred up controversies over the past few years. This makes it critical for those applying for this reason to be well-versed in the process of applying, the challenges they may face, and the rights that they will have as an LGBT asylum seeker.
Those who apply for LGBT asylum and have a successful asylum claim in the UK will be granted refugee status. This applies to those who are fleeing persecution that could result in physical harm, threats, or restrictions on freedom in their home nations. It also applies to instances where homosexuality or trans identities may be stigmatised, criminalised, or socially unaccepted in their home country.
Why Seek LGBT Asylum?
Those who leave their birthplaces to seek asylum in a new country often do not do so lightly. In many cases, people seeking asylum fear persecution, and it is a matter of survival and evasion from relentless oppression.
Government-Endorsed Oppression Reasons
There are many countries worldwide where LGBT identity is proscribed with deviation from heteronormative norms that are met with penalisation in an extreme sense. This type of oppression can manifest in many ways, from laws that constrain the free expression of gender identity to the criminalisation of homosexuality. Some individuals are faced with threats of serious harm, such as incarceration, capital punishment, or mandatory psychiatric treatment.
Community and Family Rejection Reasons
Many LGBT people find that oppression starts at home, and where this is the case, this can result in physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Without these support systems, the challenges facing these individuals become even greater and can force defenselessness upon them.
Denial Of Rights & Services
In some nations, LGBT individuals are denied fundamental services and rights. This can be as severe as healthcare refusal and discrimination in housing, schooling, and employment. This denial of rights and services deteriorates the quality of life of these individuals.
Law and Policy Against LGBT People
Many asylum claims from the LGBT community come from places where there are laws and policies in place that undermine the rights and identities of these people. Laws such as being against the propagation of unconventional sexual relationships or even laws that limit the freedom of assembly or association for LGBT communities.
To apply for asylum in the UK, applicants must apply with the UK Home Office. Applicants will need to provide documentation in their application to support their case. The documents needed for an LGBT asylum claim will often vary depending on the case.
However, evidence should be provided to show that the applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. This could include evidence such as witness statements, new articles, medical reports, publications about the same, evidence of same-sex relationships, memberships in LGBT organisations, and proof of support for LGBT activism and rights.
Of course, the best evidence is the applicant’s narrative and testimony. Consistency and detail are critical in an applicant’s attempt to convince the Home Office that the claim is valid. The applicant should address their experiences as an LGBT person in their home country, their fear of persecution, and the reasons why they feel unsafe returning.
A personal testimony is an opportunity to state your reasons for seeking asylum in the UK. It is critical to ensure your statements on the matter are detailed and consistent.
This should begin by explaining how your identity in the LGBT community formed and how it differs from cultural norms in your origin country. After this, explain the persecution-based reasons for the claim.
Demonstrate how belonging to the LGBT community puts you at risk of ill-treatment and how this is a risk to your human rights. Highlight the type of persecution you would face if you returned to your home country, how you have no protection against it, and why you are seeking asylum in the UK.
Try to note any instances where you have already suffered ill-treatment due to your sexuality or gender identity.
Supporting evidence will vary, and there are no rigid rules around what documentation should be provided to prove that your cause is valid; this is dependent on the case. However, every supporting document provided will help add validity to your claims.
You could provide:
Proof Of Same-Sex Relationships
Providing proof of same-sex relationships will help the Home Office confirm that you are truthful in your claim and validate your identity. This can be shown via correspondence between the applicant and a current or previous partner.
Those who have suffered previous attacks because of their gender identity or sexuality and have, as a result, received medical treatment should include medical reports in their application.
A medical report can add to the validity of the claim as it serves as hard evidence of persecution in the applicant’s home country.
Individuals who have been on the receiving end of discrimination or persecution and had a witness to the incident should try to obtain a witness statement to strengthen their asylum case. Witnesses can be used to help validate the story and prove that the applicant is being truthful.
It is advised to use media clips, information from human rights organisations, or news articles as a way to show the type of discrimination LGBT and intersex individuals face in their home countries. This can validate that the applicants who fear persecution are valid.
Applicants can stress this point by finding stories of those in similar circumstances and using this as evidence that the government in their home country is unable or unwilling to protect LGBT individuals.
How To Apply For An LGBT Asylum In The UK?
Those who are looking to apply for asylum in the UK need to be present in the country to apply; however, once in the country, applicants can begin their application process. Many charities and organisations will help with finances and accommodations.
To register a claim in the UK, applicants need to inform a Border Force officer upon arriving in the country, or once they arrive, they must make an appointment at the Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon.
There will then be a screening interview; during this, several questions will be asked about the identity and nationality of the applicant. At this screening interview, it is also likely that the applicant will be asked their reasons for claiming asylum.
The screening interview will require the applicant to inform the immigration officer of the following:
- Their full name.
- Their nationality.
- Their language.
- Their religion.
- Their sexual orientation or gender identity.
- How they travelled to the UK.
- Basic information regarding the reasoning for making the claim
Be sure to present any documents required at this interview. Ensure you have your passport and travel documentation with you, as well as any other documents that will help, such as marriage or birth certificates. Include additional documents that will verify your case.
After the screening process, there may be a second interview, known as the substantive interview. This interview provides the applicant with the opportunity to provide their testimony and any supporting documents. In this interview, provide as much detail as possible to support your claim.
The substantive interview will last longer; however, due to Home Office delays, there can be a long wait between the screening interview and the substantive interview.
What Happens While Your LGBT Application Is Being Processed?
While an asylum claim is being processed in the UK, the applicant will not be able to work. However, there is an acceptance that, if the applicant is granted another type of leave in the UK, they may be able to work.
However, if the applicant has been waiting for the initial decision on their claim for more than 12 months, they may be eligible to apply for permission to work. However, even in the case that the applicant can apply for this, permission to work only enables the applicant to work a role from the Home Office’s shortage occupation list.
However, while applicants are often not eligible to work during their assessment period, there is asylum support in place, which can provide accommodation and financial support.
Some applications can take a while to receive a decision, and there is no expected time limit for when a person could receive a decision on their claim. The Home Office is facing a backlog of asylum claims, and some applications can take longer to process if there are issues, such as if the applicant has a criminal record or if they are being prosecuted in their home country.
What If My Application Is Denied?
Depending on the circumstances of the individual’s claim, asylum applications can be denied. If this happens, applicants can have the right to appeal this to an asylum tribunal. Here at Total Law, our immigration lawyers can be enlisted to support you during an asylum tribunal, call us at 0121 667 6530 for tribunal support.
At a tribunal, the applicant can ask an independent judge to assess the case and take another look at the decision made by the Home Office.
This can be done using an online service, and applicants can choose to represent themselves or use legal representation to appeal. Asylum support can still be available to an applicant when they are appealing, but will be rescinded once there is a final decision.
It is best to appeal quickly. Those appealing from inside the UK will have 14 days to appeal a rejected claim, while those outside of the UK will have 28 days to appeal a rejected claim. Where possible, ask for the appeal to be held urgently, though reasons must be given as to why this is urgent.
LGBT people seeking asylum in the UK can start an asylum case in the UK provided that they can prove they have such a fear of persecution in their home countries. Many of these people are not treated fairly due to them being a part of this particular social group, and therefore, they start an asylum process in the UK.
Starting an asylum application in the UK can be difficult, as can conducting asylum interviews, especially in cases of trauma and fear. This is why it is best to seek out expert advice from a legal representative here at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers.
Our expert legal team can help you with your application, gathering documents, and legal representation throughout your case. Should you need to appeal, our team can offer legal representation and help with a First-Tier Tribunal or Upper Tribunal case. Similarly, those who wish to apply for permission to work can contact our team for help in their application to do so.
Call us today at 0121 667 6530 to see how we can help you with your LGBT asylum claim in the UK.
Last modified on February 21st, 2024 at 12:38 pm
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