Alex Powell, PhD Candidate, The City Law School, City, University of London
Alarming numbers of LGBTQ asylum claims are being rejected by the UK Home Office, according to recently published figures. This comes off the back of a spate of media coverage drawing attention to the injustices many individuals face when seeking asylum on the basis of their sexual identity.
Academics have long noted a culture of disbelief and denial within the Home Office, with decision-makers being predisposed to disbelieve claimants. The culture of denial is particularly pronounced with respect to sexuality claims. Those claiming asylum on the basis of their sexual identity are often unable to provide objective evidence of that identity, leaving their claims to rest upon whether or not the decision-maker finds their account credible.
As part of my research, I have been interviewing individuals who have successfully sought asylum in the UK on the basis of their sexual identity. Their stories reveal a number of things about Home Office culture.
Over recent years, there has been a drive from the Home Office to understand sexuality within asylum claims as a matter of identity, rather than conduct. This follows a decision of the European Court of Justice and is now reflected in Home Office asylum policy. This is a victory for the dignity of asylum seekers and has curtailed cases of asylum seekers being required to submit sexually explicit evidence.