Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The Home Office's guidance to gay asylum seekers who seek refuge in the UK because of their sexuality has been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The discretion test where they are sent back to their homeland with the advice to keep their sexuality secret was according to UNHCR turning international convention "on its head".
The UK Supreme Court is to give a ruling on the issue this Wednesday. Many of those seeking asylum in this country on the grounds of their sexuality. Alexandra McDowall, the UNHCR's legal officer in London, says the discretion test "introduces an element that shouldn't be there". However, people facing persecution for their sexuality are a protected group just like those facing religious or political persecution.
The current Home Office is seeking to overturn the previous advise, however there are no official records for how many were turned away under the 'discretion-rule'. Stonewall however estimate that as many as 98% are turned away on their first application.
PS Yes I did choose the picture because one of my friends is in it. Amazing what you find when you search goggle images (Courtesy of Amnesty International Northern Ireland)