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Review of handling of gay asylum claims

Review of handling of gay asylum claims

Very pleased to have played a role in bringing about this review: it was here on Free Movement that the case referred to by May was revealed before being picked up by The Observer.

A Home Office document leaked earlier this year revealed how one bisexual asylum seeker was asked a series of intrusive questions including: “What is it about men’s backsides that attracts you?” May has asked the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, John Vine, to review asylum claims made on grounds of sexual orientation.

In a letter to him, May said: “We do need to establish that the risk of persecution is real, and this will often depend on whether the sexual orientation of the asylum seeker is as claimed. We seek to establish this at interview through questions about sexual orientation, not sexual behaviour.

“It was disappointing therefore to discover that we may not have followed our guidance in at least one case, which was brought to the attention of the media recently and where inappropriate questions appear to have been asked.

There is certainly every need for a review. In a case I was acting in last week the gay asylum seeker’s claim to be gay was rejected by the Home Office for reasons including “you have not attended any gay events, societies or clubs in the UK” and not knowing the surnames of men he had met through Grindr. This was even though he had very good evidence to show a relationship with his boyfriend, who was regularly visiting him in immigration detention, and statements from several other same sex partners.

Colin Yeo
Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder and editor of the Free Movement immigration law website.

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