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Ministers admit failure to gather data on gay, lesbians asylum seekers

2nd May 2011: Even though the government about six months back had promise not to deport lesbians and gay men at risk of persecution, the Ministers have admitted failure to gather data on people who claim or are refused asylum on the basis of their sexuality
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The absence of data indicates the government still has little idea whether gay and lesbian asylum seekers are still being sent back to home countries, even if they face imprisonment, or even torture or execution.

The non-collection of data also indicates the government is not in a position to say whether new rules following a supreme court ruling are being adhered to.

The ruling marked an end to the process of Britain refusing asylum to gay men and lesbians on the grounds they could hide their sexuality by living discreetly.

A UK Border Agency spokesperson said it was not currently recording separate statistics on the grounds on which individuals claim asylum.

But they were reviewing how data on sexual orientation cases could be recorded more effectively and whether any resulting data could be published."

Only last week, US secretary of state Hilary Clinton launched her department's 35th Human Rights report.

It cited a Stonewall report underscoring "significant disadvantages" faced by lesbian and gay asylum seekers in Britain.
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The UK chapter in the US state department report said Stonewall claimed that, by fast tracking these more complex cases and denying them quickly, the UKBA staff did not give applicants time to talk openly about their sexual orientation.

Only in December last, the UKBA came out with a new asylum instruction providing decision makers with specific guidance on assessing asylum claims brought on the grounds of an applicant's sexual orientation.

With the new instructions ready, the UKBA was expected to continue to consider all asylum claims brought on the grounds of sexual orientation on a case-by-case basis. For the purpose, it was expected to examine the situation in the country of origin and the merits of individual cases in line with the Government's coalition programme commitment and a Supreme Court ruling.

The UKBA had then asserted: `The UK Border Agency has recently produced a new asylum instruction that provides decision makers with specific guidance on assessing asylum claims brought on the grounds of an applicant's sexual orientation.

`The guidance is being complemented by training which has been developed with the help of partners such as the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG), Stonewall and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

`Furthermore, our County of Origin Information Service (COIS) has met with Stonewall and UKLGIG to discuss opportunities for further improving the quantity and quality of available usable country of origin information.

`Asylum applicants who are found to be in need of protection will be granted asylum; however if an asylum application is refused, the applicant has a right of appeal to the independent appellate authorities.

`In addition to the scrutiny of the Courts, we have a stringent quality assurance process in place to ensure that decisions are well reasoned and supported by evidence and objective information.
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`The UK Border Agency will of course continue to consider all asylum claims brought on the grounds of sexual orientation on a case-by-case basis, examining the situation in the country of origin and the merits of individual cases in line with the Government's coalition programme commitment and Supreme Court judgment of 7 July.

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