Wednesday, 8 September 2010

UK Labour leadership candidates final answer on LGBT asylum

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LGBT Labour has today released the answers to a Q & A from them to the Labour Party leadership candidates on LGBT equality. It includes their answers to the following question:
How can we ensure a fair asylum system to help LGBT people who face persecution in their countries of origin?
Their answers are as follows.

Diane Abbott

I understand the many problems with the immigration system better than any of my rivals and I frequently meet asylum seekers within my constituency.  The application process is flawed in many ways and lets down LGBT people and many others.

Labour should be proud of its strong legislative record on LGBT rights, but it is up to us to help our international siblings in the fight for equality.  I will overhaul the whole asylum system and ensure that the UK is a safe place for all LGBT asylum seekers.

I would also use our role in the Commonwealth to encourage countries that we have a historic connection with to repeal homophobic legislation and encourage a progressive national conversation on LGBT rights.

Ed Balls

I’m sure no-one thinks the current system works fairly even though some people are accepted as refugees because of their sexuality, and recent court cases have highlighted the flaws. The solution must lie in fundamentally addressing the policies and assumptions adopted by the Home Office and Immigration Courts when processing applications.

This is something we did take action on during government but we didn't act quickly enough or go far enough. The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group did a lot of work in this area but many thought there continued to be a systemic bias against LGBT asylum seekers. I welcome the recent Supreme Court ruling which will send a strong message to the asylum system but there are still dangers – for example the difficulty in establishing you are LGBT in claiming asylum and the limitation of asylum to state persecution. So the Supreme Court ruling is a start but it is still an area we'll need to work on. We also need to do more to establish LGBT equality as a fundamental human rights issue for all states to respect.

Andy Burnham

Britain has always been seen as a safe haven for the oppressed and dispossessed, something which I am proud of. We must ensure that this continues, and that the information and intelligence we have on the countries and regions of the world is reflected in our asylum policy, so that we do all that we can to ensure that people are not returned to persecution.

David Miliband

Of course someone who is being persecuted for their sexuality should be able to apply for asylum in this country.  Some of the stories that have come out of Iran, where people are executed or punished for 'lavat' are truly disturbing.  When I was Foreign Secretary I was proud of the work we did tackling human rights abuses around the world. 

Ed Miliband

A consequence of demonstrating that we were addressing concerns about immigration was that gay asylum seekers were sent home to face persecution. I’m appalled that happened on our watch. More shameful is the fact that many were advised to be ‘discreet’, an admission that the system recognised the dangers of their forced return. My family fled persecution and I will always speak out for the protection of gay and trans people fleeing abuse and against persecution around the world.
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