Schools OUT UK Chair Sue Sanders spoke on Wednesday June the 21st at the first ever LGBTIQ asylum seeker and refugee conference today, marking 50 years since the landmark Sexual Offences Act 1967 made the first steps towards decriminalising homosexuality in the UK.
The conference featured LGBTIQ refugee speakers telling their stories, exploring changes in attitudes in the UK in the last 50 years and highlighting the plight still faced by LGBTIQ asylum seekers today.
In many countries, particularly in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal and violent attacks on LGBTIQ people are common. Many are forced to flee, some to the UK, after being publicly ‘outed’.
Gay asylum seekers coming to the UK face significant barriers. The Home Office refuses to accept that any asylum seekers are homosexual unless they provide ‘proof of sexuality’. Until recently, the Home Office had deported LGBTIQ asylum seekers on the grounds that they could ‘be discreet’ about their sexuality in their home country to avoid harm – that was ruled unlawful in 2010.
The conference is being organised by African Rainbow Family (ARF), a group that supports LGBTIQ people of African heritage and wider BAME in the UK. ARF works with the growing African LGBTIQ asylum seeker and refugee communities who face harassment, hate crimes and discrimination.
It will see a call on the Home Office to abandon its ‘proof of sexuality’ policy, which ARF says is demeaning and cruel.
- Peter Tatchell, leading human rights and LGBTIQ campaigner
- Barrister S. Chelvan, LGBTIQ asylum law specialist
- Paul Dillane, Chief Executive of Kaleidoscope Trust
- Sue Sanders, Emeritus Professor at the Harvey Milk Institute
- Aderonke Apata LGBTIQ campaigner and founder, African Rainbow Family