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Home Office still turning LGBT asylum-seekers away claiming they can hide their sexuality

The Supreme Court found in 2010 that the Home Office’s refusal of claims for this reasoning was discriminatory and unlawful

GAY, lesbian and bisexual asylum-seekers are still having their claims rejected on the basis they can be discreet about their sexuality if returned to their home countries, MPs were told today. 

A 2010 Supreme Court ruling found that the Home Office’s refusal of claims for this reasoning was discriminatory and unlawful. 

But the ruling maintained an “element of discretion,” in that asylum-seekers who choose to conceal their sexuality can still be returned home, University of Sussex Professor Nuno Ferreira, who is a legal expert on asylum, said. 

Speaking to MPs on the women and equalities select committee on Wednesday, Prof Ferreira said that Britain was the “worst example” among European countries of continuing to apply elements of this logic in asylum decision-making.

Prof Ferreira said that through his research on the issue, they had found evidence of the Home Office “pushing this discretion reading,” in upper tribunals in London.

In one case, researchers observed a judge expect an asylum-seeker to act “less mannish” if she were sent back to her country of origin.

He warned that the policy adds another hurdle for LGBT+ asylum-seekers to prove that if they were sent back they would not be discreet for any reason.

“This is a dangerous policy because it assumes that decision-makers can establish the future behaviour of an individual and ignore the fact that choosing whether or not to disclose their sexual orientation if they are sent back to their country of origin is rarely within their control.

“We need to make sure that the Home Office policy eliminates all traces of discretion logic,” he stressed. 

The committee, chaired by Tory MP Caroline Nokes, is investigating issues faced by LGBT+ claimants in the asylum system. 

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