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Suella Braverman branded ‘shameful’ for saying being gay isn’t enough to qualify for asylum

‘To try to weaken protection for this community is shameful’, said a leading torture charity

Suella Braverman

The government is attempting to reduce the asylum backlog. Image: UK Parliament

Being in fear of persecution for being gay shouldn’t be enough to qualify for asylum in the UK, according to home secretary Suella Braverman, in comments that have been branded “shameful” by an organisation protecting survivors of torture.

The top Tory MP’s comments, reported by press ahead of a speech to a right-wing US think tank, are part of her argument for reforming the 1951 UN Refugee Convention – which thwarted Braverman’s Rwanda deportation scheme.

“Let me be clear, there are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman,” Braverman is expected to say.

“Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary.” 

“But 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.”

LGBTQ+ people are criminalised in 64 countries, including more than half the countries in the Commonwealth. Being gay is punishable by death in 11 countries.

The Big Issue has reported how the government’s attempts to reduce the asylum backlog are already making refugees homeless, by giving them little time to find accommodation and pushing support services to breaking point.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive at Freedom from Torture, told The Big Issue: “LGBTQI+ people are tortured in many countries for who they are and who they love, and their pain is no less than other survivors we treat in our therapy rooms. They deserve precisely the same protection too. For a liberal democracy like Britain to try to weaken protection for this community is shameful.”

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In her speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Suella Braverman is expected to lay out her solution to the refugee crisis, arguing we “now live in a completely different age” to when the refugee convention was drawn up in the wake of world war two.

“The status quo, where people are able to travel through multiple safe countries, and even reside in safe countries for years, while they pick their preferred destination to claim asylum, is absurd and unsustainable.”

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Labour MP Ben Bradshaw called on LGBTQ+ Conservatives to speak out and condemn Braverman.

“Any LGBT or other Tories prepared to condemn Braverman for this? She doesn’t seem to grasp that simply being gay is enough to result in persecution or death in many countries,” Bradshaw said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Sebastian Rocca, the founder of Micro Rainbow, a charity which helps LGBTQI asylum seekers find housing, told the Big Issue Braverman’s comments were contributing towards fear and mistrust of migrants for political gain.

“Micro Rainbow is deeply disturbed by the comments made by the Home Secretary. Claiming asylum in the UK as an LGBTQI person is incredibly difficult and the standard of proof is very high. By making comments like: ‘Fearing discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be enough to qualify for international refugee protection’, Suella Braverman continues to push a narrative that is of fear and mistrust towards migrants, and in this case of LGBTQI asylum seekers,” Rocca said

“The Home Office own guidance states that “to establish a claim under the Refugee Convention the treatment feared must amount to persecution”. It is disheartening to see that the Home Secretary is more interested in making headlines for political gain instead of building safe routes and a humane asylum system.”

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