Interview: S Chelvan – on protecting the rights of LGBT asylum seekers

Published: December 2, 2014

Scott Roberts
Original Article:

The biggest thing Chelvan has learnt from working in this area over the years is summed up in two phrases “education, education, education” and “litigation, litigation, litigation” – with a bit of training thrown in.

“There is a lot of ignorance around not only within the Home Office and the government but also within the tribunal system and court system – especially when I started in relation to what it means to be a gay asylum seeker, and from that the most basic thing of what it means to be gay.

The third category, Shame, is an automatic response to people suggesting “what you are is wrong”. Chelvan adds: “Difference, stigma and shame comes into the common narratives of the majority – I’m not saying all – but the majority of LGBTI people throughout the world.”

The lawyer asks: “So what makes the refugee? It’s harm: the fear of harm because of their gender or sexual identity, because of the perception that they do not confirm.”

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