Lib Dems back LGBT asylum seekers

September 14, 2008 9:27 PM
Simon Hughes MP at conference podium

Simon Hughes MP speaking during the debate

Lib Dems have condemned Labour's treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers in a motion passed at party conference in Bournemouth this afternoon.

A series of speeches highlighted both the general principle and shocking individual cases, with speakers ranging from ordinary members to Party President Simon Hughes MP and Lord Roger Roberts.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said after the vote, "It is totally unacceptable for Britain to be deporting people to countries where they will face persecution, torture or death merely because of their sexual orientation. This country has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to those fleeing tyranny and oppression.

"It is about time that practice was extended to gay and lesbian people escaping deeply unpleasant homophobic regimes."

Full text of the motion:

Conferences notes:

a) A number of recent cases in which lesbians and gay men have been deported or threatened with deportation to countries, including Iran and Nigeria, where homosexuality is treated as a crime punishable by sentences including the death penalty.

b) That the British Government has argued it would be acceptable for a lesbian or gay person to be deported to a homophobic state, as long as that individual behaved in a 'discreet' manner.

c) That the UK is a signatory to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which prohibits torture, and the transfer, return or expulsion of persons to countries where there are substantial grounds for believing that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

Conference reaffirms the commitment in the preamble to the Liberal Democrat constitution that our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.

Conference believes that:

1. Everyone should be treated equally under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification.

2. The suggestion that individuals should behave 'discreetly' to guarantee protection from harm is, in the 21st century, an inappropriate message for the British Government to send to the countries concerned and their people.

Conference therefore calls on the Government to halt the deportation of people to countries where their sexual orientation or gender identification may mean that they are threatened with the risk of imprisonment, torture, or even execution.

Applicability: Federal.

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