UK to record sexuality-based asylum claims

Published: July 20, 2011

LGBT Asylum News has learned that information on sexuality-based asylum claims have been imputed into the Central Information Database of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) since 1 July.

The UK joins only five other countries which record data on the number of LGBT persons benefiting from
asylum/subsidiary protection due to persecution on the ground of sexual orientation: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Latvia and Estonia.

The Home Office say as well that:

"We are also reviewing all first asylum decisions in these cases taken between 1 April and 30 June to evaluate the success of our new guidance and training."
After the Supreme Court decision one year ago that ended ‘go home and be discrete’, the UKBA said they would collect data on LGBT asylum but Immigration Minister Damien Green said earlier this year that this wouldn’t happen because of "disproportionate cost".

UKBA has made no official announcement but we understand that retiring manager Bill Brandon (Deputy Director, NAM+ Quality and Learning; Refugee Integration and Resettlement) told a event organised by the law firm Mischon de Reja last month about the developments on data and auditing.

UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) Group Manager Erin Power said:

"I don’t know why UKBA didn’t say publicly that they were trying to find an accurate way to do this."
LibDem peer Lord Avebury has pressed the Home Office on the issue of recording data and auditing.

UKLGIG, which works with LGBT asylum seekers, have been lobbying on the issue for some time and in the last 12 months has held discussions with the Home Office on several occasions.

Power said that following the announcement last year that UKBA would record data attempts were made but failed because of IT problems and "because different areas of the country collated different stats."

"We were aware of the initial attempt to record LGBT claims that did not work well and of subsequent work on ensuring that recording was practicable and consistent.  We were also aware of the audit and will, like many others, be interested in the outcome."

"Of course we are delighted that UKBA is looking at the quality of decision making on LGBT asylum claims and we are hoping that it will reveal an improvement in initial decisions."

Anecdotal evidence is of increasing disbelief that applicants are lesbian or gay and this website has documented poor decision making in a number of cases. Power has acknowledged that this is a concern for UKLGIG, telling The Guardian: "It has always been difficult to prove but more frequently now, people are not being believed."

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