Refugee charities and organisations have condemned Braverman’s comments
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Suella Braverman is facing widespread condemnation for comments about LGBTQ+ asylum seekers she is to make in a speech in Washington DC today.
The home secretary will tell the right-wing American Enterprise Institute think tank that fearing discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be enough to qualify for international refugee protection.
This trend, she will claim, has resulted in a vast expansion in the number of people who qualify for asylum.
As a result, she will call on governments to consider rewriting global refugee rules so they are “fit for the modern age”.
According to a pre-published extract of the speech, she will claim that nearly 800 million people could claim the right to move to another country under the convention.
In March, she was heavily criticised for telling MPs that there were 100m people in the world who would qualify for UK asylum. Now, that figure has grown by nearly eight times.
What will Braverman say about asylum seekers?
“Let me be clear, there are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman,” Braverman is expected to say.
“Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary.
“But we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if, in effect, simply being gay or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
A number of refugee charities and organisations have condemned Braverman’s comments.
LGBTQ+ migrant charity Rainbow Migration said: “We are appalled to hear that the home secretary is questioning the legitimacy of LGBTQI+ people claiming asylum in the UK.
“The government’s own statistics suggest that only 2 oer cent of all asylum claims in 2022 included sexual orientation as a reason for needing protection.
“It is already the case that LGBTQI+ people must face a well-founded fear of persecution to qualify for refugee protection in the UK.”
Women and members of the LGBTQ+ community face specific and particular harms based on their gender and/or sexuality. \n\nThe majority of women we support have survived extreme harm, including gender-based and sexual violence, forced prostitution, torture, and trafficking. \n\n2/\ud83e\uddf5
— Women for Refugee Women \ud83e\udde1 (@Women for Refugee Women \ud83e\udde1)
What does she actually want?
Braverman will call for changes to the United Nations 1951 refugee convention, which is the legal foundation for the protection of refugees worldwide.
The convention says states that have signed up to it must protect civilians fleeing conflict or persecution.
Braverman will argue that in recent years the threshold for what qualifies as persecution has lowered so that asylum seekers need only prove that they face “discrimination” instead of a real risk of violence.
Colin Yeo, a barrister specialising in immigration law, argued that she is wrong in a thread on X/Twitter.
In one of the posts, he wrote: “No one gets refugee status because someone called them names or discriminated against them.
“Look at the list of nationalities claiming asylum: Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Eritrea are properly repressive countries, for example.”
10. No one gets refugee status because someone called them names or discriminated against them. Look at the list of nationalities claiming asylum: Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Eritrea are properly repressive countries, for example.
Elsewhere Sebastian Rocca, the founder and chief executive of LGBTQ+ asylum charity Micro Rainbow, told news outlet PinkNews the comments are “deeply disturbing”.
“LGBTQI people often face death, imprisonment and violence.
“When they come to the UK to seek safety, they have to go through an asylum system that is re-traumatising and dehumanising. In addition, the standard of proof is very high.
“The system, as it is, is incredibly difficult. These comments seek to scapegoats migrants and LGBTQI people for political gain once again.”
Meanwhile, shadow women and equalities minister Anneliese Dodds wrote on X/Twitter that Braverman’s words are “dangerous rhetoric” adding that the home secretary is “blaming everyone else for her failures”.