Migration of people persecuted for their love

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Liberal Democrats abhor the persecution of people on the grounds of their race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity and look forward to a world in which all people share the same basic rights, live together in peace, and in which their different cultures will be able to develop freely.

Some nations don’t offer those basic human rights and in such places you may be particularly vulnerable to family-based hate-related domestic abuse or honour-based violence.

When people flee persecution on these grounds, we are duty bound to challenge inequality in other nations and to offer sanctuary to the persecuted. We must be clear that we will fight to make sure that what you do and where you get to in life are not affected by your gender, the colour of your skin or who you love.

The number of LGBT+ asylum claims failing at first stage, due, in part, to inadequate legal advice in the preparation of the initial claims, concerns us. A large number of legal practices with no expertise in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity grounds advertise as immigration specialists.

Our nation’s asylum system is full of humiliating and intrusive elements. There is a culture of disbelief about the sexuality of LGBT+ applicants, requiring them to make public social media postings of a personal sexual nature, screen capture dating apps, and produce submissions by sexual partners. There is also evidence that highly traumatised individuals, including survivors of child sexual abuse, have been refused asylum due to suppressed emotional responses.

People fleeing countries where their sexual orientation or gender identification means that they risk family-based hate-related domestic abuse, honour-based violence, imprisonment, torture or execution should be granted asylum; we must stop deporting people at risk of any of these to such countries.

The presumption of disbelief about the sexuality or gender identity of LGBT+ applicants must end. That applies specifically to the practice in which officials appear to habitually state that an applicant is not LGBT+ merely to justify an initial refusal; or refuse an LGBT+ applicant on the basis that they could “be discreet.”

The way to reduce the number of LGBT+ applicants seeking sanctuary is to develop a comprehensive strategy for promoting the decriminalisation of homosexuality around the world, advancing the cause of LGBT+ rights, and extending the definition of “a refugee” in Article 1 of the Geneva Convention to include persecution or oppression on the grounds of “sex, sexuality or gender”.

Individuals registering for immigration or asylum must be allowed to self-identify their legal gender without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, until Gender X is fully recognised in UK law with an interim commitment to recognise Gender X if it is already recognised on the passport of the immigrant. We must also clearly state our commitment to supporting the Gender Recognition Act.

None of these commitments are new, many were in our 2017 manifesto, and they should be in this migration paper. We have submitted an amendment in the name of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats to rectify that error.

Conference note: LGBT+ Liberal Democrats have submitted an amendment to the migration policy (F16) to the FCC for consideration.

* Iain Donaldson and Jack Gilbert are members of the Executive of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • RUVI ZIEGLER 21st Aug '18 - 9:10pm

    Thanks for this article, Iain.
    As one of the drafters of the LD4SOS amendments to the motion (http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/archives/1371), which address only In part the gaps in F16 regarding LGBT+ seekers of sanctuary (our amendments were quite extensive already…), I welcome your amendments and hope they will be drafted in. I shall certainly support them if they end up instead being debated.

  • suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug '18 - 9:41pm

    thanks for the article and thought that has gone into it. I must confess had not realised there was a gap, and thought the issues were covered in the paper ( 4 mentions), but that is the point of having interest groups in the party that have more in depth specialist knowledge.
    Please do let us see the amendment, might be helpful in any negotiations. We know there is a strong feeling to refer back, but in this case if something is missing, for goodness sake try to put it back in with an amendment, and vote for amendments that make a positive difference.
    We can campaign on the parts of the paper where the policy is one we very much want, and we don’t have to campaign on the bits we disagree with the wording of.
    Like Ruvi I agree with what you say, with one exception :
    “stop deporting people at risk of any of these to such countries”.
    The word “removing” needs to be used, people are only “deported” if they have a criminal record. I know it sounds pedantic, but we will all agree that those that are unfairly removed do not want people to think they necessarily are criminals. ( but must point out that many of the “crimes” are not crimes against society – more like breaking rules)

  • Tony Greaves 21st Aug '18 - 10:43pm

    How does “sex” differ from “gender identity”. I thought the latter was just a more up-to-date and nuanced way of saying the first?

  • Peter Hirst 23rd Aug '18 - 2:40pm

    As long as the wording is correct, I don’t see how the details of why you are claiming asylum come into it. The fact is that you are being persecuted unfairly by our standards. It is the verifyability of your claim that matters.

  • Richard Underhill 29th Aug '18 - 7:15pm

    Suzanne Fletcher 21st Aug ’18 – 9:41pm makes some good points. The press and media including campaigners with a sympathetic attitude, are greatly to blame for misusing the word “deport”. A sentence of 12 months or more imprisonment can occur for immigration offences and often does. Before a minister or very senior office will sign a deportation order the facts must be spelled out with great reliability, If the order is successfully served the potential deportee is banned from returning to the UK, until and or unless the Home Office changes its mind (don’t hold your breath).
    There is an alternative procedure for absconders.
    After administrative removal an applicant can return to the UK after a successful visa application.
    New Labour should not be let off the hook, for instance note their secondary legislation against statelessness.
    A general culture is relevant and should be taken seriously, including a fear that a coach and horses could be driven through a loophole because of the difficulty of determining deserving cases. Sad but true.

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