Michael is a gay man seeking asylum in the UK after fleeing his home country where homosexuality is illegal. He arrived on a small boat, which the UK government now deems “illegal”. Michael is waiting for the Home Office to decide whether he can stay in the UK while fearing for his future due to the government’s Illegal Migration Bill. The bill, which has faced opposition from politicians and asylum advocacy groups, would see all adults who arrive in the UK via “illegal” routes detained for 28 days and potentially deported.
Michael’s story highlights the plight of LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum, many of whom have no other option than to undertake dangerous journeys to safety. While the UK has a proud record of providing protection to individuals fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, the government’s focus on how people arrive in the UK rather than why they are seeking asylum is concerning for many.
Asylum advocacy groups have warned that the Illegal Migration Bill could jeopardize the safety of people seeking asylum, including those who are LGBTQ+. Home Secretary Suella Braverman has admitted the bill might be “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights, yet it passed its second reading on Monday and now goes to committee stage.
Micro Rainbow, a charity that works with LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum, has described the bill as “cruel and unworkable”. They argue that it effectively bans seeking asylum and punishes people who are fleeing war and persecution. For many of their beneficiaries, LGBTQ+ people fleeing persecution, claiming asylum in the UK is their only lifeline. This new bill will do little to prevent people like Michael from risking their lives to find safety. Instead, it will condemn traumatised people to a state of misery without a fair hearing.
Michael’s plea for compassion highlights the importance of protecting the rights of LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum. The government must take a more holistic approach that takes into account the reasons why people are seeking asylum rather than how they arrive in the UK. The Illegal Migration Bill could break international law and harm vulnerable individuals who are in desperate need of protection.