‘How can you be lesbian and Christian?’ Home Office using religion against LGBT asylum seekers, says report

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LGBT+ refugee campaigners take part in the Pride in London parade on 06 July, 2019 in London, England. (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

A new report has alleged that the Home Office is using religion against LGBT+ asylum seekers.

The 85-page publication also found that the government department was using some LGBT+ asylum seekers’ dependency on homophobic or transphobic friends or family to discredit their applications.

The report, published earlier this month, outlines the often terrifying and traumatic experiences of LGBT+ asylum seekers navigating the UK’s immigration system.

“The Home Office makes me shiver,” one asylum seeker said.

“They make me tremble. Entering that Home Office is like entering the lion’s mouth.”

Home Office use asylum seekers’ dependency on homophobic or transphobic relatives against them.

LGBT+ rights campaigners complain of a "culture of disbelief” in the Home Office's treatment of LGBT+ asylum seekers.
The report found that Home Office officials using religion against LGBT+ asylum seekers. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

It further revealed that other asylum seekers had waited to apply for asylum because they did not know they could make it on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity – and then believed that this was used against them by the Home Office.

One respondent said Home Office officials asked her questions including: “How can you be lesbian and Christian?,” “Isn’t the Bible against being gay?”, and “Doesn’t that contradict with your Christian belief or your belief?”

The report was based on 33 interviews with LGBT+ asylum seekers – 31 of these came from a Christian background and two were Muslims.

Another participant said: “‘In the application process, in my case, everything that I was doing I was doing it in secret, so I got to a point that Home Office is asking me ‘Where’s the proof?’ And it’s very difficult for me to come out with proof, because I’m doing this in a way that my [family members] will not find out who I am… I don’t have the right to work.

“So if these people kick me out, where am I going? So, that was the reason why it took me a long time for me to come out [as] who I am.”

Isn’t the Bible against being gay?

The publication was commissioned by the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of North London, which welcomes LGBT+ asylum seekers fleeing persecution, and supported by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group.

“The Home Office makes me shiver.”

Jak Davis, at MCC of North London, described the findings as “extremely concerning” and said that it is “imperative” that LGBT+ people in need of refuge are given protection and safety.

“It is fundamentally wrong to assume that LGBT+ people cannot have or practice a faith,” said Davis.

“It is equally wrong to expect them to present detailed knowledge and analysis of scriptures that most people of faith, without a background in theological study, would struggle to do.”

The findings support previous research by UKLGIG.

“The Home Office needs to stop assuming that LGBTQI+ people cannot be religious or that they experience a conflict with their religion,” said Leila Zadeh, executive director of UKLGIG.

“They also need to stop using lack of knowledge of the possibility of claiming asylum as an LGBTQI+ person as a reason for refusing to grant refugee protection.”

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