UK: Protect LGBTI asylum seekers in Britain, private firms told

Private companies managing asylum accommodation in the UK are facing urgent calls to protect LGBTI individuals who say they are being physically, verbally and sexually assaulted in shared homes.

Hundreds of LGBTI people from countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria claim asylum in the UK each year.

The Home Office provides single-sex accommodation via companies including G4S and Serco, but some individuals say they face physical and sexual assaults similar to that which caused them to flee their countries.

Among the attacks on asylum seekers are reports that one intersex person was woken in the night by housemates and their friends demanding to see their genitals, while another transgender asylum seeker said her housemate exposed his genitals while yelling homophobic abuse at her. One transgender person says she was raped in her asylum accommodation.

In some cases, the asylum seekers say they reported the incidents to the Home Office and the companies contracted to provide housing to asylum seekers, but no action was taken. As a result they were forced to choose between living with their attacker or becoming homeless.

“Housing people with others who may be homophobic, biphobic or transphobic while they are in the asylum process is a systematic failure of the system,” said Leila Zadeh, the chief executive of the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group. “It puts people at risk of abuse and violence tantamount to hate crime often reminiscent of the persecution that they are trying to escape.” Read more via the Guardian