LBGTQ organisations The Outside Project, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Micro Rainbow, in their investigation into housing support for LGBTQ asylum seekers the UK, have discovered only 18 beds are on offer for the nearly 2,000 individuals who look to the UK for protection due to persecution for their sexual orientation. LGBTQ asylum seekers experience brutal abuse such as torture, rape, imprisonment, trafficking, harassment and gender or sexuality-based violence and more. The UK’s asylum system is notoriously complicated as reported by Freedom from Torture just this month.
LGBTQ asylum seekers face many challenges in the UK with homelessness once of the most urgent concerns in need of addressing. NASS – National Asylum Support Service – provides asylum seekers with accommodation, usually in shared houses across the UK. There is no choice for an asylum seeker about who they live with or where in the UK they will be based which can result in them being removed from established communities, friends, family and support networks.
Micro Rainbow details how unsafe these houses can be for asylum seekers in the LGBTQI community, living with others who perpetuate the harassment and abuse the LGBTQI individuals received in their home countries due to homophobic or transphobic views. Desperate concerns about safety push many LGBTQI asylum seekers out of their assigned accommodation and onto the streets where they face further violence and health problems.
Campaign manager at The Outside Project, Harry Gay, said:
“As queer people going through the asylum process, there’s not a lot they can do. People are scared that if they bring these things up, the landlord will have similar views [as homophobic or transphobic tenants] and won’t take them seriously.”
Michael Nastair, Director of Services for Stonewall Housing, stated:
“The ‘hostile environment’ has seen an increase in demand not only from asylum seekers but from other groups, such as undocumented people and people from the EU who don’t have the right to access housing support. With the potential of Brexit, we can’t see this situation improving anytime soon.”
Even if granted refugee status, the risk of homelessness remains. The Government’s policy is that once awarded refugee status, an individual has 28 days to find new housing and a form of income whether through work or accessing welfare support. Often, these terms are set out in a letter delivered by post, giving people even less than 28 days to arrange their new lives due to postal issues or delays. As asylum seekers are currently not allowed to work and must find ways to survive on £37.75 per week, they are unable to save money for practicalities such as a deposit for new accommodation, hence the homelessness crisis continues.
As refusal rates rise – jumping from 61% to 83% between 2015 and 2018 – for claims based on persecution due to gender identity or sexual orientation persecution, LGBTIQ asylum seekers are at risk of being forced underground and into further dangerous situations by this hostile political environment.[Image credit: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/gay-refugee-asylum-lgbt-stereotype-research-home-office-a9020291.html ]