UKLGIG provides one-to-one support and peer support groups for the most vulnerable LGBTQI+ asylum seekers. Please come to one of our monthly meetings to register your interest. You will hear from us within two weeks of the meeting if we are able to help.
UKLGIG also visits LGBTQI+ asylum seekers in Yarl’s Wood, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration removal centres. If you would like a visit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your phone number, or call 020 7922 7811.
We strongly recommend that you seek the help of a lawyer for your asylum claim. You can find a list of lawyers here. You can also attend one of UKLGIG’s monthly meetings to hear information on the asylum process from volunteer lawyers.
If you are claiming asylum because you are LGBTQI+ or are thinking of doing so, you are welcome to our monthly asylum meeting. The dates and location are below. There is no need to book in advance. All UKLGIG services are free and nobody should charge you money for attending.
These meetings are open to LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and their friends or supporters only. We do not allow journalists or researchers to attend.
Volunteer lawyers will talk about the asylum process. There may also be time to ask the lawyers questions or speak to a UKLGIG support worker.
LGBTQI+ asylum seekers can attend more than once and we encourage you to do this if your claim has reached a new stage and you want to understand more about what happens next. You do not need to attend more than once if you do not need to hear the information again or your situation has not changed.
Please note that UKLGIG does not give confirmation of attendance at the monthly asylum meeting.
If you have a question about your asylum case which has not been answered at one of our monthly meetings or you are not able to attend a meeting, our Legal Officer and volunteer lawyers provide a limited legal advice service by telephone providing one-off advice. See here for more details.
Drop-in sessions will be posted in the right sidebar and/or in the calendar (if showing) below.
The Legal Aid Agency has severely cut funds for legal help for asylum cases, resulting in far fewer solicitors doing these publicly funded asylum cases. In addition, there are even fewer solicitors with specialised knowledge of the specific issues, for asylum seekers who are gay men, lesbians, bisexual, trans or intersex. This shortage of good quality solicitors with Legal Aid Agency contracts makes it extremely difficult for lesbian and gay asylum seekers to find suitable solicitors to represent them.
In order to tackle this problem, for many years UKLGIG have worked with firms of legal aid solicitors and legal advice centres, with experience and expertise in representing asylum seekers whose cases are based on sexual or gender identity, to refer asylum seekers who need representation. We have over the years referred hundreds people to these solicitors. As the funding cuts have worsened, more and more asylum seekers are requesting referrals. Many of these cases are extremely difficult, having reached various stages in the legal system without ever having had an opportunity to present their cases properly. This referral system has consistently provided a crucial lifeline to people, some of who would otherwise be deported from detention in the UK.
The number of asylum seekers looking for good legal representation continues to be much greater than the number of cases that these lawyers can take on. We continue to provide this service but we have to limit this service to asylum seekers who need extra help and who have not been able to find a lawyer for themselves. From time to time we may have to suspend this service when delays are too long.
To find a legal representative for yourself you can look at the list of our Affiliated Lawyers or consult the Legal Aid Agency website to find which organisations have legal aid contracts.
Directory of providers – GOV.UK
Legal aid funding limits
Funding cuts have made it harder and harder for asylum seekers to get good legal representation, or for the representative to carry out all the work that should ideally be done to prepare and asylum claim or appeal. However, we also hear of some representatives who are failing to carry out work that can be properly funded by legal aid. We strongly encourage asylum seekers to work hard with their lawyer to prepare their own case and to ask questions if they are concerned that work that is needed is not being done.
Legal Aid can pay for:-
- your lawyer to prepare a statement with you about your asylum claim before you have your Home Office interview;
- a professional interpreter to attend your booked appointments with your lawyer and to translate your statement or important evidence about your case;
- your lawyer to go through your interview record with you to check for anything that needs to be corrected;
Legal Aid generally cannot pay for a lawyer to go to your asylum interview with you unless you are detained in a removal centre. It also cannot pay for work on a case that has a very poor chance of succeeding or for someone to change to a new legal aid lawyer (unless there is a very strong reason).
There is no fixed legal aid cash limit; there is a fixed fee for most cases unless the work takes much longer than average. The fixed fee is not a limit and your lawyer must carry out the work that is reasonably needed on your case even if the fixed fee has been exceeded.
If your asylum application has been refused, you can only have legal aid to pay for an appeal if you have a good enough chance of succeeding. If your lawyer refuses you legal aid for your appeal because they think you will lose your case, you can appeal against that decision if you think the lawyer is wrong. Your lawyer has to give you appeal forms and tell you how to appeal.
If you are in detention in a removal centre, there are advice surgeries provided by legal aid lawyers on a rota. Ask the welfare officer to sign up for an appointment if you do not have a lawyer and you are detained.
Every week we receive up to 10 calls asking for support from LGBTI asylum seekers or undocumented migrants held in detention.
When detained in the UK nearly all are extremely vulnerable, often having already been abused, tortured or raped. If perceived to be LGBTI they can suffer abuse, harassment or assault from fellow detainees. Yet if they are not obviously LGBTI, they may be unable to be honest about their reason for claiming asylum for fear of abuse. They also face barriers in accessing legal support in general, and specifically from solicitors with expertise in sexual identity or gender identity asylum claims.
UKLGIG aims to visit LGBTI asylum seekers in Yarlswood, Harmondsworth and Colnbrook and occasionally in Brook House Removal Centres on a regular basis. If you are in detention phone us for information and support and speak to a welfare or LGBT officer to make sure you are seen on our next visit.
Note that the Home Office have announced that generally they will not detain trans or intersex people in removal centres.
Victims of torture
It is important to emphasise that if an asylum applicant alleges they have been tortured, and they are accepted for assessment by Freedom From Torture (formerly the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture) or by the Helen Bamber Foundation, they should not be detained and their asylum claim should not be fast-tracked (or it will be withdrawn from the fast-track system).
Over many years we have run courses for lawyers in the UK on representing asylum seekers claiming on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. These courses are often run in partnership with the Immigration Law Practitioner’s Association (ILPA) or other partner organisations. These courses are highly rated and are the leading source of training for lawyers.
We have also delivered the courses or bespoke versions in-house for individual law firms where the demand is sufficient as a cost-effective alternative.
In the UK and internationally we have been involved in training judges and lawyers on best practice in asylum for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.
From time to time we provide training to groups of non-lawyers, especially in the voluntary sector, who work with LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and refugees on the asylum process and supporting LGBTQI+ asylum seekers.
If you are interested in having training from UKLGIG please contact us.
Our Legal Officer is able to give some second tier advice to Legal Representatives seeking advice on any aspect of an asylum case based on sexual orientation or gender identity. They can also provide advice to other organisations which are supporting an LGBTQI+ asylum seeker. Please contact the office and leave a message for the Legal Officer to call you back for more information.