The cost of this bill in its current form will be immensely damaging to members of our LGBTQI community

BY KEAH LILY, IMAGE BY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

In July 2021 Home Secretary Priti Patel proposed the Nationality And Boarders Bill (2021). This bill represents the biggest attack on the refugee system that we have ever seen and will close our door to thousands of people in desperate need of safety. Under the new bill protection will only be granted to those arriving through the restricted, official routes, such as refugee resettlement. Those unable to meet the stringent requirements will be deemed inadmissible to claim asylum and the government will seek to deport them. If they are unable to deport them, they may be able to claim temporary asylum in the UK, subject to regular, rigorous checks and not given the right to settle in the UK.

Implementation of the bill in its current form will disproportionately impact members of our LGBTQI community. Rainbow Migration, Stonewall and Mermaids have partnered to fight for LGBTQI refugees in the Nationality And Borders Bill, which has the potential to make it even harder for LGBTQI people who are seeking asylum to be recognised and protected.

These organisations have collaborated to highlight the main implications of the bill:

  • Temporary protection status (clauses 11 and 36 of the bill proposes differential treatment of people based on how they get to the UK) potentially forcing people to hide their gender identity and/or sexual orientation because to live openly as themselves in the UK would now be a constant risk of increasing persecution (including death, imprisonment and torture) if they were removed to their country of origin.

  • Accommodation and offshore processing centres: LGBTQI people already experience systemic abuse and harassment in the UK’s current accommodation and detention system. Offshore processing centres will increase homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse

  • Standard of proof: LGBTQI people who already have difficulty proving their sexuality or gender identification will be subject to even stricter measures. Additionally, a person’s social and cultural background can impact how easily they can speak about their identity. For example, Clause 31 of the Bill proposes to increase the standard of proof for assessing whether someone has a particular characteristic that gives rise to the fear of persecution to the higher level of “balance of probabilities”.

Cameroonian refugee Marina has highlighted these challenges in her own personal experience in trying to gain asylum in the UK:

“For me it’s just really mad! How can you prove that? You can’t prove that. It’s like trying to prove that I’m called my own name. You don’t have to prove that you’re gay! It’s hard because you don’t have no privacy too. Imagine that all my conversation with my girlfriend, you have to show to your lawyer. And talking about what happened to you, even if you have been raped, it’s not easy to talk about those things with someone you don’t know. You have to do that because you have to prove it. Also like maybe dating apps, because they say maybe if you are on a dating app it’s important, or you go to clubs. Dating apps is not my culture. We have a dating culture that is quite different, if you go to Cameroon you will rarely see people using them, but here it is the culture. I found myself obliged to do that because I wanted to have more proof. You find yourself forced to do things that you don’t want to do just because you want to prove that you are who you are.”

  • Late claims: Clauses 11, 34 and 36 of the Bill open the possibility for these individuals to be penalised. Stipulating that individuals must “present themselves without delay” could have a disproportionate and unfair impact on LGBT+ people.

  • Late evidence: Clauses 16, 17 and 23 of the Bill create a mechanism which forces people to produce relevant evidence by a fixed date.

The inevitable outcome of this Bill is that the UK will take in far fewer asylum seekers and those that are will be subject to far greater and far more invasive questioning and checks. The cost of this bill in its current form will be immensely damaging to members of our LGBTQI community. It’s imperative we do everything in our power to oppose this inhuman bill.

What can you do? 

  1. Sign the petition to remove clause 9 from the boarders
  2. Email your local MP urging them for the removal of Clauses 11,16-21, 23, 31, 34 and 36 from the Bill

Resources:

Rainbow Migration Policy brief | Mermaids parliament publication | Stonewall news

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