The agreement means that queer people who have fled life-threatening situations will now be sent to a country where it is not safe for people to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity

BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY WILLIAM FONTENEAU VIA UNSPLASH

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to send some asylum seekers thousands of miles to Rwanda and have their asylum claims processed there. What does this significant hardening of migration mean for LGBTQI people? This agreement means that queer people who have fled life-threatening situations in their home countries and sought safety in the UK will instead be sent to a country where it is not safe for LGBTQI people to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

There is evidence of abuse faced by LGBTQI people in Rwanda. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported that:

“Rwandan authorities rounded up and arbitrarily detained over a dozen gay and transgender people, sex workers, street children, and others in the months before a planned June 2021 high-profile international conference.” 

“People interviewed who identified as gay or transgender said that security officials accused them of ‘not representing Rwandan values’. They said that other detainees beat them because of their clothes and identity. Three other detainees, who were held in the ‘delinquents’ room at Gikondo, confirmed that fellow detainees and guards more frequently and violently beat people they knew were gay or transgender than others.” 

Rainbow Migration has previously provided support to LGBTQI people from Rwanda, and has been warning for months of the risks that the Nationality Borders Bill creates for LGBTQI people in particular.

There seems to be a lack of safeguards put in place that could prevent harm to LGBTQI people. These proposals are actively harmful and go against the UK’s responsibilities under the Refugee Convention.

@niccrosara

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