At the time of writing it is gay pride month, which brings into sharp contrast the relatively progressive strides that the UK is taken for its own gay residents as opposed to the harsh approach it takes to foreign nationals who claim asylum here as a result of their sexuality.
Clients with an LGBT profile can claim asylum based on their sexuality, but an application of this type is only likely to be successful in limited circumstances.
Recent news reports relating to a Nigerian asylum seeker who fled to Britain to avoid sexual preference-related persecution highlight the concerns that many human rights advisors have.
Adeniyi Raji Is facing deportation to Nigeria, and is currently detained in an immigration holding centre. He has been there for six months, without release.
Nigeria is one of many African countries where acts of homosexuality are punishable by imprisonment.
In Nigeria these acts are punishable by up to 14 years. It’s also right to note that Nigerians are unable to undertake same-sex marriage and any display of same-sex affection in public is also against the law.
However, one of the aspects that asylum seekers will need to prove is not only that homosexuality is against the law but those laws are actually enforced. They would need to prove that the country in question, in this case Nigeria, takes specific steps to enforce the law.
It seems in the Nigerian case, this is very much so. Nigeria produces refugees claiming persecution on the basis of sexual orientation more than almost any other nation. It is only firstly Pakistan, and secondly Bangladesh that actually produce a larger number of prospective refugees.
Also needs to be proven Is that the individual will be at particular risk if returned.
Mr Raji has Confirmed that he has been fired from his workplace and also subject to mob violence when his sexuality became well known in his home area.
This raises a particular question, What if the persecution is not coming from the police or the authorities, but rather comes from what are called third-party actors, such as local community leaders or even from mobs organised by social media?
The rules here will be even tougher to meet, as not only do you have to prove that you are at risk from these non-State actors, but also that the government cannot provide appropriate or sufficient protection to you. Clearly here, given the government it’s natural animus towards gay people, as evidenced by the criminalisation of homosexuality, that should not be too difficult to prove. The same also applies to proving That there is nowhere else in the country that the asylum seeker can reasonably be expected to relocate to if returned.
Mr Raji was also threatened with arrest and mentioned In national newspapers, so there is no chance of him falling under the radar upon his return to Nigeria.
So why is it so hard to succeed with an asylum claim in the UK?
The heart of the matter is that the UK authorities when assessing claims for asylum often adopt a suspicious attitude and find that most accounts are without credibility. All the relevant legislation on assessing claims for asylum highlights the difficulties that asylum seekers will face in producing evidence of their persecution, Particularly when it is not in the interests of those committing persecution to leave an evidence trail.
This can be further seen from the fact that asylum seekers have often fled from the country without the able to gather the evidence, if it even exists, and also find it hard to produce evidence of what might happen in the future.
Despite the fact that the Home Office claims that they work closely with gay rights organisations to deal with these matters sensitively and carefully, most outside independent observers continue to raise a high level of refusal that gay asylum seekers often face.
Westkin has a specialist gay/LGBT team And well placed to advise on all immigration and asylum issues for gay clients, whether they specially have gay rights issues involved. You can contact us on 0208 118 4546.
We have teams in business immigration, personal and relationship visas of all types and of course human rights and asylum teams.