PARLIAMENTARIANS CRITICISE BULLYING, HARASSMENT AND ABUSE OF LGBTI ASYLUM SEEKERS IN UK IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTRES
3 MARCH 2015
A cross-party group of MPs and Peers has criticised the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex asylum seekers detained in immigration detention centres in the UK. The criticism is included in a report published today following a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention by the APPG on Refugees and the APPG on Migration led by the Liberal Democrat, Sarah Teather MP.
The panel, which included a former Cabinet Minister, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and a former law lord, considered evidence over 8 months and took evidence from the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, the only national charity dedicated to supporting LGBTI asylum seekers, and Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian lesbian asylum seeker and activist. The report states:
‘We were extremely concerned to hear that LGBTI detainees face bullying, harassment and abuse inside detention centres. This is not acceptable.
The Inquiry demands a fundamental change in the way that immigration detention is used in the UK and calls for a 28 day time limit on the length of time anyone can be held in immigration detention. The UK is one of only a few countries in the Council of Europe that has no upper time limit, meaning people can be detained for months or years. The conditions endured by those in immigration detention has been widely criticised including following a Channel 4 undercover investigation in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre broadcast yesterday evening.
Responding to the report, Paul Dillane, Executive Director of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), said –
“We welcome the Detention Inquiry’s findings. The use of immigration detention in the UK is out of control with more asylum seekers than ever before being detained for administrative convenience even though they have committed no crimes: it is extremely costly, damaging and unfair. We believe it is entirely unacceptable to effectively detain people indefinitely and we welcome the call for a 28 day maximum time limit on immigration detention.”
“The Home Office is detaining increasing numbers of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people who seek asylum, often for weeks or months. Many complain about bullying, verbal abuse, physical violence and sexual harassment in immigration detention centres like Yarl’s Wood.”
“Many of our clients – men and women from Uganda, Nigeria and Pakistan – are fleeing life threatening persecution yet they are too often incarcerated in what are effectively immigration prisons and subjected to further homophobic and transphobic abuse. This is unacceptable and we urge the Home Secretary to take steps to tackle this discrimination and violence.”
Notes to Editor
- The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) is the only national charity dedicated to supporting, and advocating for the rights of, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people seeking asylum in the UK. Founded in 1993, UKLGIG provides support to in excess of 1,000 LGBTI people seeking asylum every year.
- In October 2013 UKLGIG published a report, ‘Missing the Mark’, which analysed the quality of decision-making in LGBTI asylum claims. We reported LGBTI people continued to experience a range of challenges in securing refugee protection in the UK. These included inappropriate and sometimes humiliating questions, reliance on unhelpful stereotypes and barriers in ‘proving’ their sexuality due to an artificially high standard of proof. Full report here.
- UKLGIG’s Submission to the Detention Inquiry can be found here.
- In October 2014, VICE News reported the experiences of two UKLGIG clients subjected to homophobic abuse and violence in immigration detention centres in the UK. Full report here.
- For more information, please contact 020 7922 7812 or firstname.lastname@example.org