We are ecstatic that this government’s cruel plan to send people seeking asylum to Rwanda has been found unlawful by the Supreme Court. This is a huge victory for kindness and common decency.
“This is a day for national celebration. The judges at the UK’s highest court have stopped this trade in humans and many people in the UK who have fled unimaginable horrors can breathe a sigh of relief”, said Leila Zadeh, Executive Director at Rainbow Migration.
“Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s commitment to pushing ahead with the Rwanda plan risked turning the UK into a country famous for its cruel policies and attitudes towards people who need safety. We, and everyone we work with, are very happy that it has finally been found unlawful. Our beneficiaries can take a breath of relief, but they are still not safe. Now is the time to build a humane and dignified immigration system that we can all be proud of”. Sebastian Rocca, Micro Rainbow CEO
For many months since it was first announced back in April 2022, we have repeatedly warned that Rwanda is a country where LGBTQI people are subjected to discrimination, violence and abuse.
The UK government’s own website states that LGBT people in Rwanda are abused, including by local authorities. The situation for LGBTQI people in Rwanda is so poor that people have sought asylum in the UK based on their sexual orientation.
There is widespread evidence of ill-treatment and abuse faced by LGBTQI people in Rwanda – It’s extremely concerning that this government is willing to send LGBTQI people who have fled life-threatening situations in their home countries and sought safety and protection in the UK to another country where they would be in danger.
Innocent Uwimana, a gay man who grew up in Rwanda and came to the UK twenty years ago wrote about his struggles back home: “Growing up, I got bullied a lot because I was gay, the bullying spilled over into violence; I was terrified of going to school. When I started secondary school, it was even worse. I was physically abused by other students because they perceived me as gay. Having experienced the discrimination faced by LGBTQI+ people, I am shocked that the UK would deport people from our community there”.
Innocent also talked to LGBTQI activists based in Rwanda, who expressed their surprise and disbelief in hearing about the UK government’s plan: “Most LGBTQI people want to leave Rwanda. They want to live in a place where they can be free and themselves. So why would the UK government think it is safe to send LGBTQI people there?”
LGBTQI people could still be sent to other unsafe countries
This decision also means that the government has nowhere to systematically send people seeking asylum to, as this government currently has no other return agreements with other countries.
However, the recently passed Illegal Migration Act lists other countries where people could be sent to have their claims processed. Many of these so-called ‘safe’ countries are dangerous for LGBTQI people.
This list includes Ghana as deemed safe for men, but in 2021 nine people from Ghana were granted refugee status in the UK based on their sexual orientation. A year ago, Adams, a bisexual man from Ghana that Rainbow Migration supported was granted asylum. He was violently attacked in the street on several occasions. When he got to the UK, he got the news that his partner had been killed back home.
Last week, this government announced it wanted to add India to the list of countries deemed safe. However in 2022, thirteen people from India were granted asylum in the UK *based on their sexual orientation. Nisha, a trans woman from India had to escape from India after her parents locked her in the house and forced her to undergo conversion practices.
The Illegal Migration Act also makes it significantly more likely that LGBTQI people who come here will be detained, with fewer safeguards and for a minimum of 28 days.
With the announcement of a new Home Secretary, it’s time for a change of direction: We call on this government to get in line with public sentiment, to ditch their heartless asylum policies and to create a more humane and compassionate asylum system so that people can rebuild their lives in safety.
*The experimental statistics show the number of asylum claims where sexual orientation was raised as a basis, or part of the basis, of the claim.