Thursday, 8 July 2010

Political reaction to Supreme Court decision

The Scottish National Party welcomed the Supreme Court decision on LGBT asylum.

SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Aileen Campbell said:
Last October at SNP Conference I seconded a motion which the party membership voted unanimously in favour of to overhaul asylum rules, which at the time did not allow people to seek asylum on the grounds of sexuality.

While it is shameful that any country in the world would persecute someone for being gay, it is also shameful that the UK has refused in the past to protect those same people.
I’m delighted that that has now changed for the better. Hopefully this is just the start of further significant changes which must still be made so that there is a fair and just asylum system that of which we can be proud.
Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes said:.
I am delighted this ruling recognises the rights of gay asylum seekers, ensuring their freedom from persecution around the world.

This plight is one that my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I have campaigned on for years. It is an issue that the Coalition Government is committed to addressing as we seek to restore Britain’s reputation around the world as a leader in the protection of human rights. I believe that today’s ruling will go some way to restoring that reputation.

Other countries around the world must now follow the UK’s lead and recognise freedom of expression and freedom of sexuality for all people.
Conservative Party Home Secretary Theresa May said:
I welcome the ruling of the Supreme Court, which vindicates the position of the coalition government. We have already promised to stop the removal of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.

I do not believe it is acceptable to send people home and expect them to hide their sexuality to avoid persecution. From today, asylum decisions will be considered under the new rules and the judgment gives an immediate legal basis for us to reframe our guidance for assessing claims based on sexuality, taking into account relevant country guidance and the merits of each individual case.

We will of course take any decisions on a case by case basis looking at the situation in the country of origin and the merits of individual cases in line with our commitment.'
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
The Government has said that it would not return LGBT asylum seekers to countries where they face severe persecution.

Today's ruling gives legal force to this policy, and means that the Home Office must abandon its shameful practice of using the 'keep quiet and you will be safe' argument to return lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers to persecution and death in their native countries.

The TUC has written to the Home Secretary to seek a meeting to press for the policy and practice of the UK Border Agency to be changed immediately.
In an interview with, former Foreign Secretary and leading candidate for the Labour Party leadership David Miliband said he was unaware of that morning's Supreme Court ruling  and had apparently not heard of the Labour-introduced policy that gay asylum seekers can be returned home if it is decided they can be "discreet".
I don't know about the case. I think the whole point is that [things are done] on a case by case basis.
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