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Saturday, 17 July 2010

London protest against media coverage of LGBT asylum

The Movement for Justice LGBT asylum banner, made for Pride London 2010, was at the demonstration
Source: Demotix

By Peter Marshall

A protest took place outside the newspaper offices in London Thursday 15 July calling for an apology and retraction for the homophobic views printed in The Daily Star, Daily Express and Daily Mail about gay asylum seekers. London, UK.

Following the UK supreme court decision a week ago which prevented the deportation of two gay asylum seekers on the grounds that immigration tribunals had to follow the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees when making decisions over the right to asylum here, the right-wing press had a field day with blatantly homophobic and anti-immigration headlines and reports.

According to a letter to The Guardian signed by NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear, other trade union leaders and activists and MPs Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Caroline Lucas, "In reality, only one in 50 people who claim asylum on the basis of sexual orientation is admitted to the UK." Currently many are sent back to their country of origin and told to be "discreet" about their sexuality in countries where they may face prison or even the death penalty for being gay - to lie about their sexuality for the rest of their life. Many LGBT people seeking asylum here are fleeing from attempted murder, serious assault or rape."

A longer statement on which the letter was based is available on the web and many more have added there support. A Facebook group was set up to organise a protest outside the Express offices in the city of London on Thursday evening, to demand "an apology and retraction of the vile views published in The Daily Star, Daily Express and Daily Mail and that they publish the truth about the persecution which LGBT refugees and asylum seekers face in their home countries, and about homophobia here in Britain."

People arrived with banners and placards to attend the protest on the street outside the offices. There were speeches from representatives of a number of the organisations supporting the demonstration calling for an end to racism and homophobia in the press. NUJ members working for these papers are often appalled at the way their stories are edited to support the racist editorial line, and headlines added which misrepresent their reports.

The organisers also urged people to write in complaint to the papers’ editors, post comments on-line and register a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission. The stories seem both to offend against Section 12 of the PCC's editor's code on discrimination, but also more importantly to Section 1 (i) on Accuracy of reporting, as the judge's comments about the freedom to go to Kylie concerts and drink multi-coloured cocktails" were clearly used in an entirely different context and with quite different intention.

Video of the protest

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