The placards told the world: “Tony Blair deports gay asylum seekers. Shame!” and “Labour deports gays to face jail, torture and death”.
Bearing placards with these words, the OutRage! contingent at Saturday’s Pride London parade condemned the UK government’s abuse of LGBT asylum seekers.
“Tony Blair’s government is deporting lesbian and gay asylum seekers who have fled jail, rape and torture in countries like Jamaica, Iran, Belarus, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Algeria,” said Wendy Harris of the queer rights group OutRage!.
“Many have been victims of queer-bashing violence and attempts to kill them. Some have seen their partners murdered, their homes fire-bombed and their families stoned for having a gay child.
“Home Secretary Charles Clarke is ordering these victims of violent homophobia to return to face their persecutors and to suffer further brutality,” added Ms Harris.
On the main stage in Trafalgar Square, OutRage! activist, Aaron Saeed, a gay Muslim of Pakistani heritage, condemned the Pakistan government for “jailing, flogging and stoning lesbian and gay people.”
He also attacked the UK government for “refusing asylum to gay refugees fleeing homophobic persecution in Pakistan.”
Two other OutRage! speakers, Andrew and his Columbian boyfriend, Gustavo, detailed how right-wing death squads and paramilitaries in Columbia target gays and lesbians for “social cleansing” and “extra-judicial execution”.
“The government’s abuse of gay asylum seekers defies international law and humanitarian norms of civilised behaviour,” according to Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
“Most asylum claimants get no adequate legal representation. The Home Office often rejects gay asylum claims based on biased, inaccurate information, which glosses over the violation of queer human rights around the world.
“After escaping homophobic victimisation in their home countries, when they arrive here gay asylum applicants are arrested and imprisoned in detention centres – often for months at a time with no contact with the outside world. This perpetuates the abuse they suffered in their countries of origin.
“The Home Office justifies refusing gay victims refugee status by arguing they will not suffer persecution if they return to their home country, move to a new city or village where no one knows them, stop acting effeminately and never have sex unless it is ‘with discretion’. It is monstrous that the Home Secretary expects gay people to deny their sexuality,” said Mr Tatchell.