Record number of asylum applications granted on basis of sexuality

Record numbers of asylum seekers’ applications are being granted on the basis of their sexuality, according to Home Office figures.

The data show that the proportion of asylum applications where sexual orientation formed part of the basis for the claim more than doubled in two years from 22 per cent in 2017 to 46 per cent in 2019.

The number of successful applicants rose by about a quarter to 557 out of 1,212 asylum seekers who sought to be allowed to stay in the UK after saying they would be persecuted in their homeland because of their sexuality.

Experts suggested that could reflect greater recognition of the threats faced by gay, lesbian or bisexual asylum seekers who said their lives would suffer if they returned home.

Officials faced pressure to handle gay asylum claims more sensitively after allegations that applicants had to film themselves having sex to convince the authorities that they were really gay.

In 2010, the guidelines were shifted when a court ruled that it would be unfair to send somebody back to their homeland and expect them to hide their sexuality in order to avoid persecution.

Claims from Iran had highest rates of success

More than 4,000 asylum seekers have been allowed to stay in the UK in the last five years after claiming they would be persecuted because of their sexuality. Some 4,242 were successful in the past five years, according to the data. The largest number of claims included Pakistan (240), Nigeria (132), Malaysia (80), Namibia (62) and Uganda (55).

Those who claimed on the basis of their sexuality from Iran had the highest success rates for initial applications at 62 percent, followed by Uganda (61 per cent) and Malaysia (51 per cent). Asylum claims from people whose sexual orientation formed part of their asylum application were also accepted from nations such as Albania, Jamaica and Russia.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The UK has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution. Each asylum case is carefully considered on its individual merits by caseworkers who receive extensive training and must follow Home Office policy guidance.

“Where someone is found to be at risk of persecution or serious harm in their country of origin because of their sexuality or gender identity, they are able to receive refugee status.”

Alp Mehmet, the chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: “It is of course right for the UK to help those in genuine need of protection where it can. All our authorities need to be alert to is possible abuse of the process. Every asylum claim has to be carefully considered, whatever the applicant’s sexuality.”

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