A new report has found that the Home Office routinely disbelieves LGBTQI+ claimants. The Still Falling Short publication released by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) found concerning interview practices that they deemed “problematic”.
Based on transcripts and Home Office refusal letters, the 40-page publication found that decision-makers “often considered claims not credible,” where “people had taken risks to pursue relationships.” Examples of supposed risky behaviour included living with a same-sex partner, protesting when a lesbian partner was harassed by men, and kissing a partner in the street at night during a blackout.
Home Office officials also regularly ask questions that call the strength of claimants faith into question based on their sexuality. One claimant was allegedly told: “You have not provided a reasonable explanation as to why you have continued to practice Islam knowing full well that homosexuality is not permitted in the religion”.
Despite the study finding improvements in Home Office practices where “persistent questioning directed at sexual practices is not an issue”, the report found instances where the interviewer failed to “establish an open and reassuring environment”. This was found in all cases where the interviewer failed to use a claimant’s preferred terminology for their identity.
Leila Zadeh, Executive Director of UKLGIG, said: “Our research has found that the Home Office is setting the bar too high for LGBTQI+ people to claim asylum. LGBTQI+ people are being faced with a range of barriers: refusal if they don’t claim asylum straight away, dismissal of supporting evidence, and humiliating questioning.”
“LGBT+ people who have had to flee their homes are often very vulnerable and traumatised. It’s important that the Home Office treats them with dignity and respect and doesn’t imply that they are lying when there is no basis for doing so.
“The Home Office should live up to its own guidance and apply the correct standard of proof, requiring asylum applicants to establish only that it’s reasonably likely that they will be persecuted.”