- Why Do Individuals Seek LGBT Asylum?
- LGBT Asylum in the UK
- UK Asylum Claims on the Basis of Sexual Orientation 2022
- Documents and Evidence Required for LGBT Asylum Claims
- How to Apply for LGBT Asylum in the UK
- UK LGBT Asylum Application Processing Time
- Supporting LGBTQI+ People Through the Asylum and Immigration System
- Appealing an LGBT Asylum Decision
- How Manchester Immigration Lawyers Can Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Do Individuals Seek LGBT Asylum?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people often face legal and societal challenges across the world when it comes to accessing many of the basic human rights, including the right to social and physical protection, even though they are entitled to the enjoyment of all the rights outlined in international, regional and domestic human rights law.
While some of the nations have passed laws to counter or abolish discrimination based on people’s sexual preferences or gender identity, with their citizen communities showing social and cultural acceptance for LGBT people and gradually becoming more inclusive in nature, there are countries with prevailing anti-LGBT laws and customs, where neither the respective governments nor the societies accept people who deviate from the heteronormative ways of life.
Oppression of, and discrimination against, the LGBT community may take various forms such as:
- Rejection by family and friends resulting in emotional, physical or even sexual abuse, thereby making the LGBT persons feel isolated and defenceless
- Government-endorsed oppression leading to criminalisation of homosexuality and to laws constraining the free expression of gender identity, which, in turn, results in penalisation in many forms such as capital punishment, incarceration, or mandatory psychiatric treatment
- Denial of fundamental rights and services, from the refusal of medical treatment to discrimination in education, employment, housing etc.
Such oppression and discrimination may lead to LGBT individuals fearing persecution in their home country and seeking asylum in countries such as the UK, where they are legally and culturally accepted. Being granted asylum in a safe country can be a matter of survival for them.
In this context, please note that we are using the term ‘LGBT’ throughout this article in a more inclusive sense, to refer to all persons with sexual orientation, gender identity and expression different from the heteronormative norms, such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, pansexual, ally, and others.
LGBT Asylum in the UK
The Home Office specifies that foreign nationals who have left their home countries and are unable to go back there fearing persecution, can claim to stay as a refugee in the UK.
The fear of persecution must be because of their ethnicity, religious beliefs, nationality, political opinion, sexual preference, or any other social/cultural/religious/political circumstances in those countries. So, LGBT people are eligible to rightfully claim asylum in the UK if they fear persecution in their countries of origin due to their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
The LGBT asylum seeker, however, must be ‘genuinely’ afraid that they are at risk from serious harm if they go back to their home countries. In other words, they will have to convince the Home Office that they will be subjected to legal oppression, discrimination, criminalisation and penalisation in their home countries if they go back.
Just an opportunity to live more freely and openly as an LGBT individual in the UK, compared to more conservative societies in their countries of origin, will not be counted as a genuine reason for claiming asylum in the country by the UK government.
Moreover, like all asylum seekers, LGBT persons’ asylum claims will not be considered by the Home Office if they are EU nationals, have travelled to the UK through a ‘safe third country’, or have a connection to a safe third country where they could claim asylum.
UK Asylum Claims on the Basis of Sexual Orientation 2022
The Home Office refers to asylum claims with a lesbian, gay, or bisexual element as LGB claims, but other forms of sexual or gender identity may also be considered when addressing such an asylum application in the UK.
The Office of National Statistics data reveals that 2% of asylum applications in the UK (i.e. a total of 1,334 claims) included sexual orientation as part of the basis for the claim in 2022, an 89% increase compared to 2021. However, it was still 26% lower than in 2019, a period prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The largest number of LGB asylum applications in the UK have been received from Pakistani citizens in each of the last six years. Pakistani nationals accounted for 21% of LGB asylum applications in 2022, notwithstanding the fact that Pakistan accounted for only 3% of total number of asylum applications in that year.
Typically, LGB asylum applications account for a small proportion of total asylum applications for most nationalities in the UK. However, Uganda is a notable exception to this rule;, 54% of the applications received from Ugandan nationals being LGB asylum claims.
In 2022, 72% of LGB asylum applications (main applicants only) were granted asylum or an alternative form of leave in the UK. This is almost two-thirds higher than 44% in 2019 and more than three times than 22% in 2017.
Please note that not all of these applicants were necessarily granted asylum or another form of protection solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
There might also be a number of LGB persons who have been granted asylum/protection on different grounds, without mentioning their sexual orientation in their claims. Such asylum applicants will thus not be included in these figures.
Moreover, only the main applicants’ data have been considered in this context.
Documents and Evidence Required for LGBT Asylum Claims
LGBT asylum seekers will have to submit the following supporting documents along with their asylum application in the UK:
- Passport and/or any other travel documents
- Identification documents, such as national identity cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, school records etc.
- Any other document that can substantiate the genuineness of their claim for asylum on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression, such as:
- Applicant’s own testimony
- Witness statements
- Medical reports
- Any published article in the media about their case
- Evidence of same-sex relationships
- Membership in LGBT organisations
- Evidence of supporting LGBT rights and activism
- Information regarding the laws and customs in their home countries when it comes to LGBT persons
Applicants staying in the UK at the time of application must submit their UK proof of address. If they have their own accommodation in the UK, they will have to submit documents with their full name and residential address in the country, e.g. bank statements, housing benefit book, council tax notice, tenancy agreement, utility bills etc.
If an applicant is staying in the UK with someone else, they will need to submit a letter dated within the last three months from the person they are staying with, confirming that the applicant have their permission to stay, as well as UK documents mentioning the full name and address of that person, e.g. council tax notice, tenancy agreement or utility bills.
How to Apply for LGBT Asylum in the UK
LGBT asylum seekers will first have to register their claim for asylum with a UK immigration officer. This is called a ‘screening’ interview, during which you must disclose your fear of persecution in your home country because of your sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression.
The UK immigration officer will take your photo and fingerprints for biometrics purposes during the screening interview, and ask who you are, where you are from and why you are seeking asylum in the UK.
Following the screening interview, the Home Office will review your application to decide whether your case can be considered in the UK. If yes, then they will send you an asylum registration card (ARC) to your UK address, and assign a caseworker to your case.
If not, the Home Office may send you to a safe third country which will consider your asylum claim. You may be able to appeal against the decision.
Your caseworker will schedule an asylum interview with you, during which you will be required to explain how you were persecuted in your home country on the basis of your sexual orientation, and why you are afraid to go back there.
It is advisable to have your lawyer present with you during this interview, since proving to the caseworker that you are part of the LGBT community may be difficult, especially if you do not have evidence of your sexuality or do not feel comfortable being questioned about the same. You may call us on +44 (0)161 826 9783 for legal representation.
Following the asylum interview, your caseworker will review the documents and other information you have provided supporting your asylum claim, before making a decision about your LGBT asylum claim.
Successful LGBT asylum seekers might be granted refugee status in the UK or any other form of humanitarian protection. They will be allowed to live, study and work in the UK for a minimum of five years. After five years, they can apply to settle in the UK, subject to other relevant terms and conditions.
However, if your caseworker decides that you will not face persecution because of your sexual orientation if you go back to your home country, even though the society back home may not be very welcoming towards LGBT individuals, the Home Office will ask you to leave the country.
UK LGBT Asylum Application Processing Time
It may take months or even more than a year for the Home Office to process your LGBT asylum claim. This is due to the increasing number of asylum applications being received in the UK in recent years.
For example, the processing time used to be an average of six months in 2020, which has since increased to an average of 20 months in 2021.
Supporting LGBTQI+ People Through the Asylum and Immigration System
Various focus groups and LGBT activists in the UK offer free and confidential advice or support for LGBT asylum seekers throughout their asylum application process, and also while they are waiting for a Home Office decision.
They can advise you about all aspects of the asylum process. Such organisations also provide general advice and assistance to LGBT persons whose asylum applications have been refused by the Home Office.
However, they do not offer legal representation, and cannot substitute for your lawyer, who will be responsible for your case. Call us today on +44 (0)161 826 9783 if you are seeking a lawyer for your LGBT asylum application in the UK.
Appealing an LGBT Asylum Decision
In case of an asylum refusal, the Home Office decision letter will explain the reasons behind that, and will also mention if the applicant can appeal that decision, or can ask for an administrative review instead.
If you have the right to appeal, the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) will hear your case, and review your appeal form and supporting documents. They may allow your appeal, or dismiss your appeal and uphold the Home Office’s original refusal decision.
If you have lost your appeal but believe that there has been a legal mistake with the tribunal’s decision, you can go to the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber).
If your appeal is rejected by both tribunals, you may further go to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Claiming asylum in the UK on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression can prove to be a challenging task. Even if you can prove your identity as an LGBT person, you will have to further prove how, and why, going back to your home country can pose significant risks to your safety and security.
Moreover, given the UK government’s overall policies to deter asylum seekers in the country, and the rigorous eligibility and documentary requirements from the Home Office, it is advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer as soon as you decide to claim asylum in the UK on the basis of your sexual orientation.
If the Home Office refuses your asylum application, you may appeal that decision or request for an administrative review. An immigration lawyer can help you through the appeal or administrative review process to ensure a better chance of success.
Manchester Immigration Lawyers have helped several LGBT asylum seekers among others with their asylum applications in the UK. Our team of expert immigration advisers can offer you asylum advice as well as legal help throughout your application process.
We also offer emergency support in case you have been detained, or if you have an immigration emergency. Call us today on +44 (0)161 826 9783 today to speak with one of our expert immigration advisers.
Last modified on November 3rd, 2023 at 9:47 am
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Typically, asylum seekers are not allowed to work in the UK while awaiting the Home Office decision on their asylum application, although they are provided with accommodation and financial support. These policies are the same for all asylum seekers regardless of their sexual orientation.
In some cases, the Home Office may grant asylum seekers permission to work, especially if their asylum claims have been outstanding for more than a year. However, they are allowed to work in restricted jobs only on the shortage occupation list.
Registering your asylum application at the asylum intake unit may take up to four hours. The immigration officers may also detain you after your screening interview. You will, however, be given a letter explaining why you are being detained.