Magazine article Forced Migration Review

Barriers to Justice in the UK

Magazine article Forced Migration Review

Barriers to Justice in the UK

Article excerpt

In recent years, there have been significant legal advances in the treatment of the cases of lesbian and gay asylum seekers in the UK. However, various barriers still remain.

Interviews with case workers, solicitors specialising in LGBT asylum cases and a gay immigration charity in the UK indicate that UKBA officials resort to obsolete stereotypes in order to 'inform' their decision making. Asylum seekers have been denied protection because they have appeared too typically straight and often applicants are expected to act, dress and speak in certain ways which conform to rigid Western notions of sexuality. Lesbians have been rejected for not seeming butch enough, and gay men have been asked if they frequented parks for sex. These deeply held assumptions about how lesbian and gay identity ought to be manifested undermine any effective and protective asylum system.

Many asylum seekers have also found that the presence of interpreters can sometimes be detrimental to their application. Claimants in the asylum process are allowed to choose the gender of their interpreter, and that interpreter should be aware of cultural or religious sensitivities. However, interpreters in the UK receive no training on LGBT issues and there are no imminent plans to address this. Many LGBT asylum seekers fear being interpreted by someone from their home community. In many refugee communities in the UK, homophobia is as common as it is back in the home country, and often interpreters are a representation of this. …

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