Gay refugees resort to filming sex acts to gain asylum in UK
Gay and lesbian asylum seekers being forced to 'prove' sexuality, according to report from MPs
GAY and lesbian asylum seekers are being forced to "prove" their sexuality, according to a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee. And in extreme cases, some refugees have submitted photographic and video evidence of "highly personal sexual activity" in a bid to persuade officials.
The committee's report, published today, found that gay and lesbian asylum seekers face "extraordinary obstacles" in trying to make their case.
Refugees are sometimes told to bring sexual partners to court as witnesses or asked if they have attended a gay pride march. In one case, a Nigerian man was refused asylum partly because he had not been to any "gay establishments" and could not name any famous gay people.
Keith Vaz, Labour MP and chairman of the committee, told BBC News it was "absurd" for judges and caseworkers to ask asylum seekers to prove their sexuality, to ask them what kind of films they watch and what kind of material they read.
"People should accept the statement of sexuality by those who seek asylum. This practice is regrettable and ought to be stopped immediately," he said. A spokesman for the gay rights group Stonewall said the process can be "deeply distressing to asylum seekers, many of whom have fled for fear of their lives".
There are 76 countries in the world that criminalise any form of same-sex relations and seven countries where homosexuality is punishable by death, according to the International Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans and Intersex Association. Many also suffer rape, torture and death threats.
S Chelvan, a UK barrister who submitted evidence to the report, said that for a person to have to film themselves having sex to gain asylum "gives rise to a unilateral conclusion that the system has broken down". He added that "no human being should resort to such extreme measures".
The Home Office said it will "continue to monitor performance to ensure that standards are met". ·