Gay UK asylum seekers feeling increased pressure to prove sexuality, say experts

The Guardian
|
February 4, 2013
Issues: 

Gay asylum seekers are increasingly going to extreme lengths to meet immigration officials' demands that they prove their sexual identity or else be returned to countries where they face persecution. In a lecture to be delivered this week at the Law Society, S Chelvan, a barrister who specialises in asylum cases and works with the UK Border Agency (UKBA), will detail the extraordinary methods to which individuals are resorting – including filming themselves having sex – to justify requests for refuge. The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), which supports up to 1,000 applications a year, says altered official guidelines are a significant improvement but that they result in an excessive focus on the sexuality of individual claimants. Changes introduced by the UKBA following a landmark supreme court judgment in 2010 have shifted the emphasis of official assessments to establishing whether or not claimants are genuinely lesbian or gay, according to immigration experts.