LGBTQ+ charity slams UK government as bill to send asylum seekers to Rwanda becomes law

Rainbow Migration’s Executive Director, Leila Zadeh, stated: “It is dystopian that this government has passed a law that ignores facts and declares contrary to evidence that Rwanda is a safe country."

An image taken in London, UK, showing a sign post that has
Image: rightclickstudios via Shutterstock

After years of debate and legal challenges, the UK Parliament has officially passed a controversial bill that could send asylum seekers to Rwanda while their claims are processed. The policy, first introduced in 2022, was approved on Monday, April 22, despite it being ruled unlawful last year.

Under the new measures, any asylum seeker entering the UK “illegally” from a “safe” country could be sent to Rwanda. There, their claim would be processed, and if successful, they would be granted refugee status in the east-central African nation. If unsuccessful, they could apply to settle in Rwanda on other grounds, or seek international protection in another “safe third country”. However, any asylum seeker sent to Rwanda would not be able to apply to return to the UK.

Ministers say that the policy aims to deter people from travelling to Britain on small boats across the English Channel. There is no limit to the number of asylum seekers who could be sent to Rwanda, and BBC correspondent Dominic Casciani estimates that there are currently 52,000 people who could be considered.

Speaking after the bill was passed, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the first flight as part of the scheme would leave in 10 to 12 weeks, adding that there would be “multiple flights a month through the summer and beyond”.

The Rwanda policy has been widely criticised, as it orders courts to ignore key sections of the Human Rights Act and disregards the International Refugee Convention which would block deportations to the country.

Rainbow Migration, a charity that supports LGBTQ+ people through the asylum and immigration process, said it was “devastated” by the passage of the “cruel” bill. 

“By pushing forward with this legislation, this government has signed off a policy to banish and abandon people who fled to the UK, seeking to find safety here,” the group stated.

Rainbow Migration’s Executive Director, Leila Zadeh, added: “It is dystopian that this government has passed a law that ignores facts and declares contrary to evidence that Rwanda is a safe country. Most of us welcome people who have fled unimaginable horrors, but instead, this government is intent on sending them to danger.”


While homosexuality is legal in Rwanda, the queer community still reportedly faces widespread discrimination and legal challenges.

Innocent, a gay man who arrived in the UK from Rwanda 20 years ago, expressed: “Having experienced the discrimination faced by LGBTQI+ people  – or those perceived to be sexual minorities in Rwanda – I am shocked that the UK would deport people from our community there.”

With the Supreme Court having previously ruled the scheme unlawful, it is expected that a “whole range of legal challenges” will emerge, as stated by Illegal Migration Minister Michael Tomlinson. These may be brought by individual asylum seekers appealing their own deportation, or specialist refugee organisations.

© 2024 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.