Saturday, 12 October 2013

Gay Refugees Forced To Hand Over S*x Videos To Be Granted UK Asylum

Gay rights activists and asylum experts say the conditions refugees live in are 'appalling' and could easily be 'illegal'.Gay refugees are being forced to hand over videos of themselves having s*x in order to be granted asylum in the UK, MPs have said.The Home Affairs Committee (HAC) has discovered in extreme cases of claimants who have handed over photographic and video evidence to prove their sexuality.With some waiting up to 16 years for a decision, the housing with which they are provided was described as ‘appalling’.In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled the ‘underlying rationale’ of the United Nations Refugee Convention was people should be able to ‘live freely and openly’ in their own country without fear of persecution.
This had overturned the Border Agency’s previous emphasis on ‘voluntary discretion’ – meaning people should stay closeted in order to avoid abuse.The report said: ‘The battleground is now firmly centred in 'proving' that they are gay.‘In turn, this has led to claimants going to extreme lengths to try and meet the new demands of credibility assessment in this area, including the submission of photographic and video evidence of highly personal sexual activity to caseworkers, presenting officers and the judiciary."‘We were concerned to hear that the decision making process for LGBTI applicants relies so heavily on anecdotal evidence and “proving that they are gay”,’ the committee added.‘It is not appropriate to force people to prove their sexuality if there is a perception that they are gay. The assessment of credibility is an area of weakness within the British asylum system.‘Furthermore, the fact that credibility issues disproportionately affect the most vulnerable applicants - victims of domestic and sexual violence, victims of torture and persecution because of their sexuality - makes improvement all the more necessary.’Keith Vaz, Labour MP and HAC chairman told BBC News: ‘It is absurd for a judge or a caseworker to have to ask an individual to prove that they are lesbian or gay, to ask them what kind of films they watch, what kind of material they read.‘People should accept the statement of sexuality by those who seek asylum. This practice is regrettable and ought to be stopped immediately.’Speaking with Gay Star News, GayAsylumUK’s Omar Kuddus said if refugees are being told they should hand over 'evidence' of their sexuality, then this is illegal.'Asking LGBT asylum seekers to hand over video evidence of "highly personal sexual activity" is appalling and feel that this would be a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states "All human beings are born free equal in dignity and rights" as their counterparts are not required to show evidence of their heterosexuality,' he said.'To further subject gay asylum seekers to humiliation and an obvious violation of their privacy is appalling and unacceptable, considering that applicants have usually been though harrowing ordeals which have lead to them applying for asylum in the first instance, including mental and physical torture.'Kuddus will be raising the issue with Home Secretary Theresa May and urging her to abolish any policy that exposes the flaws in the current asylum process for LGBT claimants.The report also discovered a backlog of 32, 600 asylum cases that should have been resolved in 2011 are yet to be concluded.30% of appeals against initial decisions had also been allowed in 2012, raising concerns about the quality of the UK Border Agency’s decision making.A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it. We are committed to concluding all cases as quickly as possible, but asylum cases are often complex and require full and thorough consideration.‘We have robust mechanisms in place to monitor standards of housing provided to asylum seekers.’He added: ‘We will continue to monitor performance to ensure that standards are met.’

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