Elton John and his partner David Furnish have issued a statement in response to UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s comments surrounding immigration. The British politician has faced widespread backlash over her Washington DC address on Tuesday, September 26.
In a speech stigmatising LGBTQ+ people fleeing unsafe countries, she said “simply being gay, or a woman” should not be enough to gain protections under international refugee laws.
Ms Braverman suggested the UN Refugee Convention has been too generous in the past, saying: “…we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
Superstar Elton John was one of many to condemn her speech, issuing a statement through his AIDS Foundation, saying: “We are very concerned about the UK Home Secretary’s comments stating how discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be reason enough to qualify for protection under international refugee laws.
Additionally, regarding immigration, Elton John called for “more compassion, support and acceptance for those seeking a safer future”.
A joint statement from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Elton John and David Furnish on today’s remarks from the UK Home Secretary. pic.twitter.com/HfWYyFic3n
— Elton John AIDS Foundation (@ejaf) September 26, 2023
Similarly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said, “Where individuals are at risk of persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it is crucial that they are able to seek safety and protection.”
LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall also commented, calling the Home Secretary’s address, “incredibly concerning” and emphasised that “the UK has a proud recent history of helping LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution”.
It is incredibly concerning to hear the Home Secretary @SuellaBraverman stand against United Nations conventions that the vast majority of the world’s nations have signed or ratified.
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) September 26, 2023
There are 71 countries that still outlaw same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, and a recent report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) found that 2022 was the most violent year for LGBTQ+ people in the past decade. Much of this violence has been attributed to the rise in hate speech from politicians, religious leaders and right-wing media.
Those seeking asylum are not required to disclose their sexual orientation when applying, and according to UK immigration data, only 2% of applicants included that information in their claim in 2022.
With a general election due next year, a former Tory cabinet minister told the Irish Independent that Ms Braverman has seemingly destroyed her party’s credentials, saying: “The damage to the party is one thing; but the international trashing of Britain as a fair and humane place for those who are persecuted has taken an horrendous backward step.”
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