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United Kingdom

British Immigration office criticized over ‘degrading’ LGBT questionnaire

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

LONDON — A confidential internal report by the British government, leaked to the British press last week, details a series of graphic questions posed to LGBT people seeking political asylum in the United Kingdom, including inquiries into a person’s sexual activity.

UK-immigrationThe report disclosed that one person – during five hours of questioning in a UK Immigration Detention Center – and another asylum seeker, were asked to provide intimate details regarding their sexual activity with other men, to describe sexual intercourse with their partners, and to describe the type of men and body parts they found attractive or sexually stimulating.

A ranking British official told LGBTQ Nation on Monday that the questionnaire, created by an unnamed government employee last October, was in direct contravention of established British government policies and regulatory guidelines, that unnecessarily exposed LGBT asylum seekers to “‘humiliation,” but claimed that the questions were no longer being used.

However, he acknowledged that efforts to determine person’s sexual orientation were still conducted “as sensitively as possible.”

On Monday evening, Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker called the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers by government caseworkers “shockingly degrading.”

Last Fall, the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee Chairman, Keith Vaz, told the BBC that LGBT asylum seekers were still being ordered to “prove” their sexuality, and he strongly criticised the practice.

“It is absurd for a judge or a caseworker to have to ask an individual to prove that they are lesbian or gay, to ask them what kind of films they watch, what kind of material they read,” Vaz said. “People should accept the statement of sexuality by those who seek asylum. This practice is regrettable and ought to be stopped immediately.”

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Richard Lane, a spokesman for LGBT advocacy group Stonewall UK, said “Valuable time and resources is spent attempting to ‘prove’ a claimant is gay rather than establishing whether they have a legitimate fear of persecution.”

Lane and other advocates said that the leaked report proves that there is almost “systemic homophobia” in the UK’s asylum system, which Lane argues could be “deeply distressing” to asylum seekers.

“The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we do not deport anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality,” a government spokesperson told LGBTQ Nation. “All applicants are required to establish they face persecution, inhumane or degrading treatment in their home country to qualify for our protection.”

But on Monday evening, Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker said it was the treatment of LGBT asylum seekers by government caseworkers that was “shockingly degrading.”

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8 more reader comments:

  1. I am so glad that someone caught this. It definitely shouldn’t be allowed.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 5:23pm
  2. Intolerance should be met with intolerance.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 5:26pm
  3. What do the poor gay men do? Walk around with Gay Times under their arm and a butt plug securely inserted in their arses. What they ought to do is tell the officer to undress and then you can prove it – they may just try a new angle.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 5:36pm
  4. Are they asking straight people about their sexual activity? What the hell?!

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 5:37pm
  5. Shame, shame, shame.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 6:27pm
  6. Fuck the border Agency and the government.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 9:06pm
  7. If you are entering a country and looking for asylum based on the fact that you are lgbt then I think it would be within reason to be asked some personal questions If any government was just to take someone’s word and not ask questions they would be derelict in their duty to protect the people of their country being lgbt does not grant us the right to bypass the process or bitch when we feel a little uncomfortable Some of the questions asked were completely uncalled and should be changed I am a transgender woman I know what it feels like to be asked very personal questions but we cannot further our cause if we bitch slap everyone for asking stupid questions

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 9:09pm
  8. Why, exactly, is their sexuality relevant at all?

    Posted on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 10:46pm