News & Views Monday 24th October to Sunday 30th October 2016  

No Safe Refuge for LGBT Asylum Seekers

  • UK detention offers little sanctuary from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse
  • LGBT detainees often denied access to medication, such as HIV drugs and anti-depressants
  • Staff are ill-equipped to meet the needs of LGBT people or to protect them from harassment from fellow detainees

A new report – No Safe Refuge – reveals the everyday discrimination and violence that lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) asylum seekers can experience in UK detention centres. In a joint report, Stonewall, the leading charity for lesbian, gay, bi and trans equality, and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), have investigated the experiences of those who have been forced to seek asylum due to persecution for their sexual orientation or gender identity. Researchers from both organisations conducted 22 in-depth interviews with LGBT asylum seekers who have been held in UK detention centres. They were asked about their experiences with staff, other detainees, their physical and emotional well-being in detention and access to legal and health services.

Findings show that staff are ill-equipped to meet the needs of LGBT people or to protect them from harassment from fellow detainees. The LGBT asylum seekers who were interviewed say they felt forced to hide their identity, for fear of abuse.  Detainees who were known to be LGBT were bullied, harassed or physically attacked by other detainees, and victims said they did not feel protected by detention staff. Many countries – 72 United Nations member states – criminalise consensual acts between adults of the same sex, and very few countries recognise trans people’s rights. Interviewees who took part in the research have faced severe discrimination and violence in their country of origin, leading them to claim asylum.

Read more: Stonewall,

UN Call On US to Abolish Mandatory Detention of Migrants

Members of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention completed a two-week visit to the United States today and called upon the Government to abolish its mandatory detention of migrants, particularly asylum-seekers, after it found serious racial and economic disparities and that many people were being held under punitive conditions.

“People being detained under punitive conditions that are often indistinguishable from those applicable to persons subject to criminal punishment,” the panel said. “Mandatory detention of migrants, especially asylum-seekers, is against international law standards,” the experts said. Their findings stated that “detention for immigration purposes should be the exception rather than the rule. It should be utilized only where strictly necessary after an individualized assessment of the necessity of detention in each case, to prevent flight risk or danger to the community, or to execute a final order of removal after a full hearing in which due process is guaranteed.”

Read more: UN News Centre,

Deportation  - Operation Nexus

Dawn Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will provide information on the (a) number and (b) nationalities of people on the flight from London on 7 September 2016 that was part of Operation Nexus; from which London airport that flight departed; and if she will make a statement.

Mr Robert Goodwill: 5 Jamaicans were removed under Operation Nexus on the charter flight that left the UK on Wednesday 7 September from London Stansted.

Child Refugees in Turkey Making UK Clothes

Syrian refugee children have been making clothes for British shoppers, an undercover BBC investigation has found. Panorama investigated factories in Turkey and found children had been working on clothes for Marks and Spencer and the online retailer Asos. Refugees were also found working illegally on Zara and Mango jeans. All the brands say they carefully monitor their supply chains and do not tolerate the exploitation of refugees or children. Marks and Spencer says its inspections have not found a single Syrian refugee working in its supply chain in Turkey. But Panorama found seven Syrians working in one of the British retailer's main factories. The refugees often earned little more than a pound an hour - well below the Turkish minimum wage. They were employed through a middleman who paid them in cash on the street.

Read more: BBC News,

Early Day Motion 582: Decision On Asylum Seekers From Eritrea

That this House welcomes the decision of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum) that Government decisions to return home Eritreans of draft age, who have or might be suspected of having evaded or deserted national service, presents a real risk of persecution or serious harm; notes that Eritrea, sometimes described as Africa's North Korea, is a one-party state accused of appalling human rights abuses against its own citizens, including forced labour, compulsory and indefinite military service and torture; further notes those fleeing that country comprised the largest number of those applying for asylum in the UK in 2015, with 3,695 applicants of which 1,319 applications were granted; is concerned for those already deported by the Home Office which considered it safe for Eritreans to return after leaving the country illegally; agrees with the Home Affairs Committee, which reported in July that the refusal of asylum for such people was unacceptable; and urges the Home Office to immediately change its Country Information and Guidance on Eritrea so those at risk know that they are welcome to seek refuge in the UK.

Sponsors:     Sponsors: Grady, Patrick, McDonald, Stuart Ahmed-Sheikh, Tasmina Gethins, Stephen Grant, Peter

House of Commons: 20.10.2016