UK sent over 3,000 queer asylum seekers back to anti-LGBTQ+ countries since 2017

The Home Office has been accused of having an "appalling culture of disbelief towards LGBT+ asylum seekers".

Asylum seekers arriving to the coast on a boat.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

New data released on Thursday, August 25, revealed that the UK government has sent 3,017 queer asylum seekers back to anti-LGBTQ+ countries since 2017. The research published by the Home Office mainly focused on statistics from 2021, but painted a wider picture of the reality faced by sexual minorities seeking asylum in the nation during the last five years.

According to the report, just 677 people out of 1,050 were granted asylum or other forms of leave based on sexual orientation claims in 2021. It should be noted that the data only referred to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, other sexualities or gender identities may not have been included. While this rate of acceptance rose by 43 % in comparison to 2019, there were 77 % fewer LGB applications in 2021.

Over 100 of the successful cases involved queer people fleeing from Pakistan where same-sex activity between men is punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty. The UK government also granted asylum to dozens of people from Bangladesh, Nigeria, Iran, Uganda and Iraq.

However, according to the Liberal Democrats, 1,048 Pakistanis, 570 Bangladeshis and 381 Nigerians have also been sent back to their native countries since 2017. The party’s home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael accused the Tories of “failing to stand up” for queer rights, adding that they were guilty of “sending thousands of people back to countries where homosexuality is still against the law”.

“The UK should be advancing the cause of LGBT+ rights, at home and abroad, and offering sanctuary to those who need it,” Carmichael said. He added that the government must do all it can to “help people who are forced to flee violence and persecution simply for who they are and who they love”.

The spokesperson called upon Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, who are in the running to be the UK’s next Prime Minister, to commit to ending the Home Office’s “appalling culture of disbelief towards LGBT+ asylum seekers”.

Speaking to PinkNews, a representative of the Home Office stated that every asylum case “is considered on a case-by-case basis,” and that “no one is removed unless it is safe for them to do so”. 

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