Asylum Advice for LGBT Refugees
The ABC of how to claim asylum & fight deportation.
For advice and guidance re LGBT asylum applications and appeals, please see this page on the Peter Tatchell Foundation website:
What is needed for a properly prepared asylum application/appeal?
To win your asylum claim/appeal, you need a full, detailed personal account of the homophobic persecution that you suffered or you know other LGBTs have suffered, or that you fear you will suffer if you return to your home country.
You need supporting evidence. This can include written statements from friends, family and/or partners (they need to give their full name, date of birth, address, relationship to you and their statement needs to be signed, dated and witnessed by one or two other people (who also give their full name, date of birth, address etc).
Supporting evidence can also include copies of news reports (dated and sourced), reports from human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and news releases from LGBT groups like OutRage!, International Gay & Lesbian Association etc (see below).
You also need an expert witness who can testify to the nature and extent of homophobic discrimination and violence in your home country. The expert witness can testify in court or can present a written submission.
Finally, your solicitor needs to present evidence of previous successful asylum claims by LGBT refugees from your country. These case precedents are vital to win a case.
What do I do if I have no legal representation?
If you cannot get legal representation in time for your asylum hearing, you should attend the court and ask the adjudicator to postpone the hearing for a month, to allow you time to find a solicitor and to prepare your evidence.
If your solicitor has not adequately prepared your case, you should also seek a postponement. It is disaster to proceed with a poorly prepared legal submission.
To get a postponement, you will need to show that you have made efforts to get a solicitor, and either been turned down or deserted by your previous legal representative. Keep records of who you've approached and what they've said.
If the asylum claimant is in a relationship with a UK citizen
Asylum is hard to get. If an asylum applicant is in a same-sex relationship with a UK citizen, it might be easier to seek leave to remain in the UK either by taking out a civil partnership or by applying for an unmarried partner's visa. These enable the foreign partner to gain right of residence in the UK . But to do this they have to return to their home country and apply from there. You can apply for a same-sex unmarried partner's visa at any UK embassy or consulate. You can also apply at a UK embassy or consulate for a visa to the UK for the purposes of a civil partnership. There are certain rules about both civil partnership visas and unmarried partner's visas. Go to the Home Office and Department of Trade & Industry websites to see the full terms and conditions.
Get support from the local MP
All asylum applicants need to get the backing of their local MP (the MP for the area in the UK where they live or last lived prior to detention, or the MP for the area where their detention centre is located). A letter from their MP gives an asylum seeker's claim greater attention and increases the likelihood that their claim will be treated seriously.
To find out the name of the local MP, inquire at the local Town Hall or reference library. Or, you can go to the following website and type in the asylum applicant's postcode:
It will then advise you of the name of the MP for that postcode.
You can email, fax, write or phone the MP (phone the House of Commons on 020 7219 3000 and ask for the MP's secretary, or see www.parliament.uk for the MP's direct phone, fax or email address).
When you write to the MP include the asylum applicant's full name, nation ali ty, date of birth and Home Office reference number; plus a maximum two-page summary of why the applicant fears persecution in their country of origin, i.e. evidence of what homophobic persecution they or their friends suffered, and evidence of state-sanctioned victimisation of LGBTs.
You can also visit the MP in person at their weekly local constituency advice and help session (details from your local library or Town Hall). A visit in person in highly recommended. If the asylum claimant is in detention, a friend or family member should seek to meet the MP in person and make the case for supporting the claimant.
Please send OutRage! a copy of your submission to the MP (including an outline of the applicant's case and supporting evidence of homophobic persecution) - and any reply from the MP.
Media publicity can sometimes help. Indicate whether you are prepared to have this information publicised in the media (either using your real name or with your identity concealed).
OutRage!, P.O. Box 17816, London. SW14 8WT
What to do if an asylum applicant is facing deportation
There are two priorities.
First, phone the claimant's solicitor or, if they have not got one, find a solicitor willing to help. Request him/her to apply for an injunction against deportation. Securing an injunction may or may not be possible, depending the status of the asylum seeker's claim.
Second, phone the claimant's local MP and ask him or her to fax the Home Secretary to (a) halt the deportation and to (b) allow an appeal against deportation.
You need to present the MP with a cover letter including the asylum applicant's full name, nation ali ty, date of birth and Home Office reference number (and, if they are detained, their place of detention and their detention number). You also need to give the MP a summary of why the asylum claimant fears persecution if they are sent back to their home country i.e. evidence of crimin ali sation, imprisonment, torture, rape and execution of LGBTs, either by state agents (police and military) or by vigilantes and death squads (see how to get this evidence below).
If an LGBT asylum seeker has a partner in the UK, this information should be cited, together with supporting evidence (such as a letter from the partner). This can be used to prove that the applicant has established a family life in the UK with their partner, which may be grounds for the Home Secretary to grant leave to remain in the UK on compassionate grounds.
This cover letter and supporting evidence should be posted, faxed or hand delivered to the local MP. Always phone the MP to check he/she has received it.
Stress the need for urgent action in cases where deportation is imminent.
Always include as many contact details as possible (your name, address, phone/mobile, fax and email) so the MP can contact you easily.
If deportation is attempted
If the Home Office attempts to illegally deport an asylum seeker who has a genuine, well-founded fear of homophobic persecution (especially if they have not had a fair hearing), the applicant may wish to resist passively, by refusing to get on the plane.
If the Home Office gets the asylum applicant on the plane, they may wish to scream and plead with other passengers to not allow them to be sent back. They should loudly explain their fear torture and imprisonment. The idea is to arouse the sympathy of other passengers and to be a severe nuisance to the airline staff.
If an asylum deportee is noisy and uncontrollable, the airline will often not accept them as a passenger and they will probably be taken off the flight and returned to the detention centre.
This can give the asylum claimant's MP and solicitor an extra couple of days to make representations against deportation.
Information on LGBT human rights abuses around the world
It is vital that every asylum applicant provides evidence supporting their claim that they will be in danger of homophobic persecution if they are returned to their home country. To get this evidence, check this OutRage! website (under Briefing s and International), do a Google search and look up these websites:
International Lesbian & Gay Association
International Gay & Lesbian
Human Rights Commission
Amnesty International LGBT section
Peter Tatchell Foundation
Human Rights Watch
(go to Briefings, then to the individual country)
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