LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in "real danger" following UK High Court ruling, charity says

Commenting on the Rwanda policy, charity organisation Rainbow Migration warned about the dangers that LGBTQ+ migrants may face.

This article is about a ruling of the UK government's Rwanda scheme. In the picture, people protesting for the rights of refugees, with a rainbow-coloured sign that reads
Image: Via Unsplash - Ra Dragon

On Monday, December 19, the High Court in London issued a ruling that said the UK government’s scheme to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda was legal. After the decision, LGBTQ+ charity Rainbow Migration vowed to continue fighting against the Rwanda policy, and called on leaders to reconsider.

The government first announced the controversial plan to relocate asylum seekers arriving in the UK to Rwanda last April. Activists and charities condemned the scheme, declaring that it could be particularly harmful to LGBTQ+ migrants. Although homosexuality is not illegal in Rwanda, queer people often face discrimination, abuse and violence.

Last June, the first planned deportation of asylum seekers was blocked by an injunction from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the lawfulness of the scheme was then challenged before the High Court.

With Monday’s ruling, the High Court determined that it is lawful for the UK to make arrangements with the government in Rwanda to send asylum seekers there. However, the court also ruled that the UK government had failed to properly consider the individual circumstances of eight individuals seeking asylum, saying that those cases were to be reconsidered.

This ruling does not mean that flights to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda can start straight away, as the ECHR injunction prevents it until the conclusion of the legal process and a further appeal is expected in British courts.

Commenting on the High Court ruling, LGBTQ+ charity Rainbow Migration wrote on Twitter that the “plan presents a real danger to anyone seeking asylum in the UK, and especially LGBTQI+ people.”

“We’ll continue to oppose this government’s scheme and ask for a more compassionate approach,” the organisation added.

The charity’s Executive Director Leila Zadeh spoke to Attitude about the High Court decision, saying: “We are disappointed to see that the High Court has ruled that the Rwanda scheme is lawful. However, it has also rejected the decision to remove eight people and has said that individual circumstances have to be taken into account.”

Zadeh described the scheme as “catastrophic”, saying that it presents “a real danger to anyone seeking asylum in the UK and especially LGBTQI+ people”. Zadeh added, “They are not legally protected, and are subject to entrenched discrimination, violence, and abuse, including from security officials”.

“We call on this government to stop this plan and to rethink their approach to asylum,” Leila Zadeh continued. “Instead of punishing people for coming here in search of safety, this government should be building a more compassionate and caring asylum system that considers asylum applications carefully, in a timely manner, and on a case-by-case basis.”

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