No room for gays at the Daily Star

The Daily Star is up in arms.  “No room for gays” it trumpets, in a bizarre throw-back to the worst aspects of 1950s society.

What’s the problem?  Two men – from Cameroon and Iran – had applied for asylum on the grounds that, as homosexuals, they would be in danger if they returned home.

Same sex acts are illegal in Cameroon – with prison sentences of up to five years.  In Iran, homosexual acts are punishable by up to 100 lashes or death.  There’s no doubt that homosexuals from those countries face a real, genuine and serious prospect of losing their liberty or even their lives if they return home.

Under international law – which our country has signed up to, and which we complain bitterly when someone else flouts – there’s no doubt these asylum applications should be accepted.  Under the previous government, attempts were made to wriggle out of this responsibility.  Gay asylum seekers were told that they should be discrete – as long as no-one found out about their sexual preferences, they’d be safe in their homelands.

The Supreme Court has taken a dim view of that, blocked the removal of the two men from Britain and the authorities are looking again at the situation.

The objection to this in certain sections of the right wing press is that millions of people will now turn up, pretend to be gay, and get carte blanche to stay here.  They seem to imagine that an asylum seeker merely has to do a passable impression of Mr Humphries from “Are you being served?”, or perhaps knock out a few show tunes on the karaoke and they’ll get in, no questions asked.

I don’t know how to break this to the Daily Star, but that isn’t how the immigration services work.  They are a little bit tougher than that and take a bit more convincing that anyone at all should be allowed to stay in the country.

So when the Daily Star says

OPENING the floodgates to gay asylum seekers is absolute madness.

The idea is bound to be abused. Every illegal desperate to get into Britain will try claiming they’re gay to ensure they stay here.

And the Daily Express faithfully reports that

Campaigners last night warned it could mean millions might try to claim they are gay to qualify for asylum in Britain.

They are, to be honest, talking absolute nonsense.   After all, if that were true, we’d already have millions of asylum seekers faking a religious belief they don’t hold – something that I’d think would be as easy to maintain as pretending to be gay (I stand to be corrected if people’s personal experiences say otherwise).

But for a newspaper to run the headline “No room for gays” and think it totally acceptable – surely there’s something not right there.

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  • being at risk of injury because of the regional wars one has willingly entered

    Do you mean wars which an individual has entered, or wars which a state has entered which endanger civilians living within its borders?

  • I’m sure it won’t open the floodgates, but I don’t understand why it won’t.

    Forget those who might pretend to be gay, what about those who are gay? And there will be millions of people in these countries keeping this life-threatening secret. Just as there were millions hiding here before this country ceased persecuting homosexuals (officially at least) in the 1960s. If we are saying it is simply unacceptable to be forced to live a lie then on exactly what grounds will they ever be refused asylum?

    Are we relying on the considerable barriers to getting to the point of being able to claim asylum? Being willing to admit it. Leaving behind family and friends who may even disown you. Money for travel. Etc..

  • This story made me so angry, as it did for over twenty others who took the time to comment their disgust under the article.. and what do you know? Daily Star pulled the negative comments underneath and made the article unavailable for comments.

    How the press can continually get away with this kind of unethical practice is beyond me.

  • Paul McKeown 8th Jul '10 - 7:40pm

    Congratulations to our liberal Home Secretary for a little further demonstration of the value of having a Liberal component to the government. Theresa May is doing well so far.

  • Stuart Mitchell 8th Jul '10 - 8:00pm

    Paul: “Congratulations to our liberal Home Secretary…”

    Theresa May has one of the most anti-gay/transgender voting records in the House of Commons, and was still voting against gay equality as recently as 2008.

    Several other members of our “liberal” cabinet voted against such things as Labour’s repeal of clause 28.

    Call me a cynic, but I can’t help wondering whether these people have experienced a genuine and heartfelt change in their moral outlook relatively late in life, or whether they have just done whatever’s necessary to keep their top jobs in Cameron’s pseudo-liberal Tory party.

  • Paul McKeown 8th Jul '10 - 8:21pm

    @Stuart Mitchell

    I am quite aware of the Home Secretary’s previously mixed voting record. I would see this partially as a success for the presence of the Liberal Democrats in government. I would also remind you that the Conservative party, which is represented in the Home Office by Theresa May, campaigned to expunge the record of prosecutions, and it should also be pointed out that afaik, she voted in favour of the Civil Partnership Bill.

  • Paul McKeown 8th Jul '10 - 8:26pm

    I would also point out that the LDs have campaigned since 2008 for LGBT asylum seekers. I feel that it only fair that the LDs claim this as a party success.

    @Dave Page
    I hope “While it’s regrettable that a small number of Lib Dem MPs have voted against some LGBT legislation” isn’t another unwarranted snipe at Tim Farron. If it is, then I don’t understand, how often the poor fellow has to explain his extremely principled position. Probably just another instance of how the Internet allows the permanent propagation of misinformation and general garbage. Inform yourself better by searching this site for Farron’s explanation, which should more than satisfy you.

  • Stuart Mitchell 8th Jul '10 - 9:41pm

    Dave: Point noted. I was only thinking of the Tory members of the cabinet, I hadn’t looked into the LD’s record (assumed they were virtually all pro-equality, which of course they are).

    Paul: I agree that the presence of Lib Dems in the government has a positive effect in this regard. But it should not be forgotten that the liberalisation of the Tory party was due in no small part to the electoral successes of New Labour. It was only after the Tories’ third straight defeat in 2005 that they began to ditch some of their more reactionary and socially outmoded policies. Obviously no Lib Dem would be caught dead saying anything complimentary aobut Labour these days, but as a Labour voter I have to say that one of the best achievements of the last government was its progress on issues of equality – often in the face of opposition from the Tories. I point this out in the spirit of the “new politics”!

  • Paul McKeown 8th Jul '10 - 9:44pm


    Point taken. However Labour had also many authoritarian policies, which are now being reversed. I think Labour needs to catch up.

  • @Stuart – I completely agree that Labour deserves a lot of credit for their record on LGBT equality. Of course, I would be confident that if Lib Dems had been in government over the past 13 years we would have an equal if not better record. And I am naturally proud that Nick Clegg was the first ever leader of a major party to come out in favour of full gay marriage equality. But the fact is Labour were the ones who, in power, did a lot of the heavy lifting on this issue, for which they deserve wholehearted praise.

    I must admit I wouldn’t go as far as to call Theresa May a “liberal” Home Secretary, but I was very pleased with her statement today. I wish I could believe her heart was in it, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter as long as she does the right thing. And it’s much more likely she’ll be kept on the liberal track with a Lib Dem minister looking over her shoulder.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 9th Jul '10 - 1:09am

    “Inform yourself better by searching this site for Farron’s explanation, which should more than satisfy you.”

    Any chance of a link? Just did a search and wasn’t encouraged by what I saw.

  • Paul McKeown 9th Jul '10 - 1:12am

    Everytime this comes up, everytime I have to spend ages searching. Next time I will have to bookmark it. But, seriously, this is just rubbish. LDV, in fact the LDs, and Tim Farron himself are going to have to find a better way of putting his strong and fundamental position across. Anthony, this is going to take me some time.

  • Paul McKeown 9th Jul '10 - 1:16am


    TF made a clear statement on this point at 27th May 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I don’t know why, but his views are badly distorted in so many places, for instance on wikipedia

  • Speaking as a Lib Dem gay guy who has been quite sceptical about the Tory conversion to LGBT equality, I haven’t seen Theresa May put a foot wrong on LGBT issues since she became Home Secretary. I am beginning to wonder what the woman has to do to have her pro-LGBT statements taken at face value.

  • Another Lib Dem gayer here who was worried about Theresa May at the start of the coalition but have been out-and-out delighted by everything she’s done since. I was disappointed to see so many people with “Sack May” placards at London pride when I think she deserves recognition for her change of stance and how straightforward she was on Question Time when asked about it.

    What pisses me off most about this story is how often “discreet” is mis-spelled as “discrete”. Iain, you are guilty! (But so are lots of newspapers … ) 😉

  • I was also worried about May’s appointment and wasn’t sure if her comments on QT were genuine but her actions since she was appointed have been without fault. I’m glad that something is finally being done on this issue.

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