Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Finally some humility from a Labour leader on LGBT asylum

Ed Milliband MP speaking at the Labour Party c...By Paul Canning

Ed Miliband has become the first Labour Party leadership candidate to come out and criticise the government he was part of for its treatment of LGBT asylum seekers.

Writing for he said:

I also believe we needed to show greater leadership on the question of those seeking asylum because they face persecution in their home country because of their sexuality. The fact that many forced to return to their home country were advised to be "discreet" is tantamount to an admission that the system recognised the dangers of their forced return but did too little about them. I don’t believe the answers are easy but we must find them even when they are difficult. My family fled persecution by the Nazis and I will always speak out for the protection of gay and trans people fleeing abuse and against persecution around the world.
His brother David, who is currently slightly leading Ed amongst pundits as the expected winner of the leadership campaign (and is also the descendant of asylum seekers), has by contrast been all over the place: during the election the issue was ignored or treated with indifference (here he was following the strategy of LGBT Labourites); when questioned in government he advanced the same bizarre line of 'pride' in Britain's treatment of LGBT asylum as that advanced by notorious anti-migrant and tabloid approval seeker the Labour Minister of State for Borders and Immigration Phil Woolas.

When given the opportunity in July to agree that 'Labour had let down gay supporters in this area', he refused to criticise the government he was in.

Asked in that interview about the Supreme Court decision which eviscerated the government LGBT asylum policy of 'go home and be discrete' he claimed not to know of it and gave the same stock response as other then and now former Ministers, including Gordon Brown, have ("I think the whole point is that [things are done] on a case by case basis"), a spin line which ignores the existence of Labour's 'discretion' policy, as advanced by them to the Supreme Court (or homophobia in the UK Border Agency for that matter).

Yet one month before in an online question-and-answer session he was asked whether "telling [LGBT asylum seekers] to ‘keep it a secret’ .. is a surrender and degrading to the individual?"

David Miliband typed:
We should stick to our international obligations – no ifs not buts.
This was the very point on which the Supreme Court decision hinged! His answer surely suggests that he knew this yet a month later he'd somehow forgotten that 'telling people to ‘keep it a secret’' was policy and fell back to the rote answer.

Of the other leadership candidates only Diane Abbott has a record of defending asylum seekers including LGBT ones and has criticised the Labour government's treatment of them during the leadership campaign.

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