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Gay asylum seekers face 'culture of disbelief'

Gay asylum seekers face 'culture of disbelief'

Law Society | Law Society

2 min read Partner content

Gay people who claim asylum in the UK are put under increasing pressure to 'prove' their sexual orientation, according to a leading lawyer.

S Chelvan, a barrister at No 5 Chambers, will claim that the UK has not done enough to protect LGBT asylum seekers in a lecture to be delivered this evening.

A 2010 landmark ruling found that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals should be allowed to stay in the UK if they are not able to live openly and freely without persecution in their home country.

But asylum seekers are now put under increasing pressure to 'prove' their sexual orientation, with some governments considering tick-the-box type questionnaires, Chelvan will argue.

There are currently 80 countries that criminalise consensual same-sex activity, whilst five countries impose the death penalty.

At the the 11th Annual Stonewall Lecture hosted by the Law Society, Mr Chelvan will introduce his DSSH (Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm) model as an alternative way of supporting refugee claims based on sexual or gender identity.

"Gay and lesbian asylum seekers come to the UK for protection, but a culture of disbelief sees some go to extreme lengths to prove their sexuality," he said.

"They find themselves in an intolerable position. It is inhumane. It is wrong."

Law Society president Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said:

"We tend to think that, in terms of LGBT rights and protections, we've got it right. That in the UK, LGBT individuals have equal rights and are protected against discrimination.

"Yet there is a question whether these rights and protections apply to the most vulnerable individuals: asylum seekers who have fled to the UK because in their country of origin their situation is so dire, so desperate that they fear for their own safety."

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