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Nationality and Borders Bill and LGBT+ Refugees

February 3, 2022 11:51 AM

Tim Farron LGBT+ SSC 2012Tim Farron intervened in the debate on the Nationality and Borders Bill to highlight the situation facing LGBT refugees.

Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate the Lib Dem MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale said:

The Nationality and Borders Bill is a peculiarly awful piece of legislation, designed to solve problems that do not exist, ignore problems that do, and play to a gallery rather than seek to make a difference. The negative impact that this Bill will have on LGBTQ+ asylum seekers is a prime example of what is wrong with the Bill. LGBTQ+ people will be disproportionately affected by clause 11, which is the Government's choice to differentiate on the basis of method of entry into the United Kingdom. They are much more likely, as we have heard, to be categorised as group 2 refugees, and experience second-class treatment at best…

The reality is that creating a second tier of refugee, which the Government sometimes refer to as "illegal route"-there is no such thing as an illegal refugee-is in contravention of international agreements on the matter…

Cameroon, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Uganda-these are the most common countries of origin for people claiming asylum on the basis of their sexuality. They are also countries where many individuals are persecuted because of their sexual orientation, but they are not seen as areas of conflict or instability and as such do not warrant inclusion in the UK resettlement scheme. As the hon. Gentleman just mentioned, as a result, those people will be treated as second-class asylum seekers… Those fleeing those countries can therefore come here only by the so-called illegal routes-irregular, informal routes.

It is important to recognise that even if those people were in a region where they could access the UK resettlement scheme, they may still remain at risk, due to their sexuality, in neighbouring countries that they would pass through on the way to safety, which for other refugees might be places of safety. They would obviously prefer to move on to safety rather than wait in camps in a country that is unsafe for them. Further to that, it is highly likely that LGBTQ+ people will not feel safe coming forward and identifying themselves as a person eligible for resettlement… The Government's choice to penalise further the late production of evidence will disproportionately impact LGBT people. It is therefore wrong.