Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Coalition LGBT Polices: Asylum. Check!

The Government's paper "Working For LGBT Equality" has gone from theory to reality today, following a Supreme Court ruling stating that returning LGB (not T) asylum seekers to their home countries where they might face murder, torture and/or imprisonment was wrong.

The decision overturns an earlier decision by the Court of Appeal that the Government could return two gay asylum-seekers, identified as HJ and HT, to Iran and Cameroon, where homosexuality is illegal, on the basis that they could be expected to act "discreetly" so as to avoid persecution.

In Iran, homosexuality regularly leads to the death penalty, whilst in Cameroon, it is punishable by up to five years in prison. HT had been severely beaten and cut with a knife by neighbours and police and was hospitalised for 2 months before escaping to the UK.

The London office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) intervened in the appeal to the Supreme Court on behalf of the appellants. A team from Baker & McKenzie acted for UNHCR on a pro bono basis.

Baker & McKenzie Associate Iona Harding, who ran the case, said: "This is an excellent result which will ensure that lesbian, gay and bisexual people receive the protection they are entitled to as refugees in the UK and are not expected to hide their identity in order to escape execution, long prison sentences or other forms of persecution." Pink Paper

Why was this case brought to court if the Coalition are already supportive of the outcome? Because the policy was enforced, and defended, by the last Labour Government during which this case was started. Yet another sign of the fact that whilst Labour talked big on LGBT rights, they often acted differently.

And, in even better news, the Coalition plan to ensure that this policy is extended to transgendered people too which is more than the ruling requires.

That's 1 - 0 to the Coalition on LGBT rights. Let's hope they can keep it up.

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist

No comments: