The Home Secretary has stood by her comments made earlier this week about queer asylum seekers
BY ELLA GAUCI, IMAGE BY ITV PESTON
After making a speech on 26 September at the American Enterprise Institute about her belief that just being gay was not enough of a reason to claim asylum for refugees, Suella Braverman has doubled down on these comments in an interview with ITV’s Peston.
The Home Secretary said that “people do game the system” in reference to alleged false sexuality-related asylum claims.
She continued: “They come to the UK, they purport to be homosexual in the effort to get in our system in the effort to get special treatment. That’s not fair and that’s not right.”
When asked by the interviewer Anushka Asthana to clarify what she was implying, Braverman said: “I’m afraid we do see many instances where people purport to be gay when they’re not actually gay in order to get special treatment. It’s not the way our asylum system should work.”
The Home Secretary’s comments have attracted a storm of people condemning her speech, including the likes of Elton John who was concerned about repercussions of Braverman’s words.
In the interview with Peston, Braverman touched on these comments saying: “I have huge admiration for Elton John, but what I would say is, we need to be honest about what’s actually happening on the ground.”
“And, as I said in my speech, we need to be clear about what constitutes persecution. Persecution is where people are being tortured, where they are receiving ill-treatment, where they are having their human rights violated in a monstrous and grotesque way.”
Only 2% of asylum claims to the UK are based on a person’s sexuality, and many have taken to social media to publicly show their outrage at Braverman’s comments.
Ian McKellen spoke to Channel 4 about his response to the Home Secretary’s statements, saying: “It’s laced with a good dollop of prejudice and hoping that she’s going to get a few votes because of it.”
Labour MP Yvette Cooper took to Twitter saying: “Suella Braverman knows less than 2% of UK asylum applications are on sexual orientation and majority are granted.”
“Yet she chose to specifically target & criticise LGBT+ people to distract from her failure to tackle Tory asylum chaos. Divisive, truly shameful & demeans her office.”
While Suella Braverman says we need to focus on “what’s actually happening on the ground”, I wonder how many queer asylum seekers she’s actually spoken to. Last month I had the honour and privilege of speaking with four queer women seeking asylum in the UK who are part of the organisation Queer Refugees Unite. To read their stories, pre-order our October/November issue now.
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