- Can I Claim Asylum in the UK for LGBT Reasons?
- What Evidence Do I Need To Make a Claim?
- How To Apply for Asylum in the UK for LGBT Reasons
- What Happens Whilst My Asylum Claim Is Being Processed?
- What If My Asylum Application Is Denied?
- How Newcastle Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Claim Asylum in the UK for LGBT Reasons?
As part of the Geneva Convention Act (1957), under UK law foreign nationals (including those that belong to the LGBT community) are able to seek asylum in the UK under certain circumstances. To be eligible you must meet the definition of a refugee given in Article 1(a)(ii).
The clause characterises a refugee as someone who is fleeing their home country (left and cannot return) through a well-founded fear of persecution or discrimination because of their ethnicity, religion, nationality, affiliation with a specific social group, or political beliefs.
To be successful in your claim on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you must be able to demonstrate that the discrimination you are facing in your home country could lead to, or already has caused, persecution such as:
- Physical harm
- Inhuman and degrading treatment
- Restrictions of freedom
- Social exclusion
It is important to note that many LGBT people feel that they would be able to live more openly and freely as a homosexual, bisexual or transgender person in the UK as opposed to their home country. However, to be successful in an asylum claim and gain refugee status, you must provide the UK’s Home Office with evidence to show that if you are, or are perceived to be, open about your sexuality or gender identity in your home country, you are not protected from or are subject to persecution by law.
You will need to demonstrate that you are at risk of serious harm from your home country’s government because of your sexuality or gender identity or, that the government of your home country is unwilling or unable to protect you.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, all asylum seekers in the UK are required to provide personal testimony as evidence of their situation in their home countries.
Often the most compelling piece of evidence, the Home Office will thoroughly examine your personal testimony when making a decision on your eligibility to become a refugee and a decision on your asylum claim is likely to be made based upon its merit. Secondly, you should, where possible, try to prove the points you make in your personal testimony with supporting documents.
Your personal testimony is your chance to explain your reasons for seeking asylum in the UK. The UK’s legal framework regarding asylum seekers allows the Home Office to make decisions on asylum cases based on the validity of the applicant’s narrative and therefore it should be highly detailed and consistent. It would be best if you built as strong a case as possible to be successful in gaining refugee status.
You could start by explaining how your identity within the LGBT community was formed and differs from cultural norms in your home country. You should then go on to explain the persecution-based reasons for your asylum claim.
You should demonstrate how belonging to a particular social group (in this instance LGBT) or, how your private life puts you at real risk of ill-treatment and how this challenges your human rights. You should highlight precisely the kind of persecution you will face if you were to return to your home country and how you have zero protection there against it.
You should list in detail any instances where you have already suffered degrading treatment because of your sexuality or gender identity and/or why you have such fear that this kind of persecution is likely to happen or continue should you return. You could explain how your nationality, or the religion or political opinion of the majority in your home country, puts you at real risk and goes against your fundamental human rights.
The supporting evidence required by the Home Office for asylum claims varies greatly from case to case. There are no rigid rules about what should be included and the documentation needed to prove your cause is just, is dependent on your personal circumstances and experiences. Each supporting document you can provide may help strengthen your asylum claim, and perhaps give you a better chance of being successful.
Some general examples of what may be accepted by the Home Office as supporting evidence can be found below:
Proof of Same-Sex Relationships
If you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, it is a good idea where possible, to provide evidence of any previous or current same-sex relationships to prove your homosexuality. This does not include proof of sexual acts, but rather correspondence between you and your current/previous partners to show that your relationships are/were genuine.
If you have previously been attacked because of your sexuality or gender identity and you received hospital or medical treatment afterwards, it is useful to include any medical reports in your application. Medical reports help strengthen the validity of your claim as they provide the Home Office with hard evidence of persecution.
If you have been on the receiving end of persecution or discrimination and there were witnesses to the incident, it is wise to try and obtain statements from those witnesses to strengthen your asylum case. Witness statements are useful as they help validate your story and help prove that you are being honest in your asylum application.
It is possible to use media clips, news articles or information from human rights organisations that show the kind of discrimination LGBT or intersex people face in their home countries. Information from the media about the discrimination you may face helps to prove that your fears are valid and well-founded. To stress this point, you could look for stories about people who have been in similar circumstances to yourself and use them as evidence that your government are unwilling or unable to protect you against significant harm.
To apply for asylum in the UK you must first be present in the country. Once on British soil, you can then begin the application process of gaining refugee status. It is worth noting that there are various charities and organisations within the UK that can help you find accommodation whilst you are seeking asylum.
In line with the Home Office policy, to register an asylum claim, you must first visit The Asylum Screening Unit in Croydon (South London). It is only in very exceptional circumstances that you can register your asylum claim locally and so the likelihood is that you may have to travel to begin the process.
You can either make an appointment at the screening unit or use the walk-in service to register your claim. If you use the walk-in service you will probably have a lengthy wait to be seen so making an appointment if you can do so is in your best interests. The process involves two formal asylum interviews in which you must be physically present. It is worth noting that the Home Office does have the right to detain you at this stage. If this happens you will be given a letter explaining the reasons why.
Asylum Interview 1 (Initial)
When you arrive at the unit, you will first go through a screening process in which you will speak to an immigration officer. You must tell them:
- Your full name (who you are)
- Sexual orientation or gender identity
- How you arrived in the UK
- Basic information about the reasons for your asylum claim
Asylum Interview 2 (Substantial)
The second interview is your opportunity to put forward your asylum case. It is here that you will present your personal testimony and supporting documents to an immigration officer. You should give them as much detail as possible to underline your main points and make your asylum claim credible. The whole process can take up to 4 hours.
What Happens Whilst My Asylum Claim Is Being Processed?
Once you have attended both interviews and submitted your application in its entirety, you must wait for an initial decision. It is worth noting that whilst your application is being processed you are not allowed to work in the UK. The only exception to this rule is if you have been granted another type of leave in the UK before or during your asylum claim or have been waiting for your initial decision for longer than 12 months. Even if this is the case, opportunities are restricted to those on the Home Office’s occupation shortage list (such as engineering or medical industries).
However, asylum support is available during the assessment period to help counteract the negative impact of not working and there are many charities and organisations that can help you find support should you need it.
There are no time limits on when you must receive a decision and each application is judged on its own merit. In some circumstances, your application may take longer to process than others. For example, if you have a criminal record or are currently being prosecuted in your home country.
What If My Asylum Application Is Denied?
Sometimes, depending on your circumstances, asylum applications can be denied. Should this happen you do have the right to appeal the decision in an immigration and asylum tribunal. Here, you ask an independent judge (not part of the UK government) to assess your case and take a second look at the decision to deny you asylum by the Home Office.
You can appeal online using the MYHMCTS Service unless you are in detention, (in which case you will have to submit a paper application). You can choose to represent yourself during the appeal or you can use a lawyer to help you put forward your case. Asylum support may still be available to you during the appeal process and you may still be able to secure support from charities or organisations until a final decision is made.
It is possible to ask for your appeal to be held urgently, however, you must state the reasons why it is so urgent in your application. A judge will review the evidence and make a decision as to whether or not your case should be heard urgently.
Claiming asylum in the UK can be a lengthy and confusing process, especially for foreign nationals who have little or no understanding of the processes written into UK law.
If you’re an asylum seeker and you want to make an application to stay in the UK for reasons regarding your sexuality or gender identity, Newcastle Immigration Lawyers can help.
No matter how complex your case may seem, we have the skills and expertise in asylum applications to guide you through the entire process from start to finish, giving you the best chance of success.
We can explore your personal circumstances to discover if you’re eligible to make a claim and help you collect evidence should this be the case. We can assist you with your personal testimony and help you prepare for the asylum interviews, or help you lodge an appeal should your application be denied.
For more information about how we can help you gain refugee status in the UK, speak to one of our immigration lawyers today. Call us at (+44) 0191 303 8965 or contact us online.
Last modified on October 3rd, 2023 at 8:28 am
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Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of successful gay asylum claims in the UK. The current average success rate is approximately 64% for applications made because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
If you are successful and are granted refugee status, you will have the right to live and work in the UK for at least 5 years. Once this time period has passed you will then be able to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ where you can live and work in the UK permanently.