Pride Month: Support for LGBTQI+ Asylum Seekers

Written by: Beth Webb-Strong


This Pride Month, June 2024, Seraphus reflects on the support available to LGBTQI+ refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK.

June is recognised as LGBTQI+ Pride Month, a time dedicated to celebrating and commemorating the LGBTQI+ community. While many events claim to be inclusive, LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum often face barriers to participating in these vibrant celebrations.

The Refugee Convention 1951 provides protection to individuals who have a well-founded fear of persecution for one of the five Convention grounds: race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion. Following Minister voor Immigratie en Asiel v X, Y, and Z v Minister voor Immigratie en Asiel (C-201/12), LGTBQI+ individuals with a well-founded fear of persecution are generally granted protection under the membership of a particular social group Convention grounds. Many countries continue to criminalise specific sexual orientations or prosecute individuals for conducting certain sexual activity, discriminating against the LGBTQI+ community. This results in many individuals fleeing persecution, seeking protection in countries like the UK. 

It was not until HJ (Iran) and HT (Cameroon) [2010] UKSC 31 that the UK took a new approach in considering asylum claims based on sexuality, where it was recognised that it was not reasonable to expect an individual to return to a country where they felt they must repress or pretend their sexuality does not exist. Although this case set an important precedent, it has been reported that the Home Office responded to the ruling through an increasingly intrusive approach to questioning LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, asking them to prove their sexuality through detailed accounts of their sexual conduct. Recent Home Office guidance stipulates that a sensitive approach should be taken when questioning asylum claimants on details of a claim based on sexuality. 

However, a hostile attitude remains towards LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. As recently as September 2023, the previous Home Secretary, Suella Braverman claimed that recent case law demonstrated a shift towards granting asylum to LGBTQI+ individuals who feared discrimination in their country of origin, rather than persecution. This rhetoric serves only to increase stigmatisation and suspicion towards LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum, many of whom fear criminal prosecution on return to their country of origins for reason of their sexuality. 

Home Office statistics from 2022, and updated in November 2023, indicate that 2% of asylum claims included a lesbian, gay, or bisexual element. LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum face compounded challenges due to intersectional disadvantages related to their diverse sexualities and status as asylum seekers. They encounter unique difficulties upon arriving in the UK, including risks of isolation, discrimination, and stigmatisation. Therefore, it is crucial to provide additional support to help LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum navigate the asylum system and prevent them from being ostracised.

To assist, we have compiled a list of organisations offering bespoke support to LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. 

Legal Advice

  • Rainbow Migration: Provides practical and emotional support, specialist legal advice, and engages in campaigning, policy work, and strategic litigation to improve the asylum system for the LGBTQI+ community.


Mental Health, Wellbeing, and Social Inclusion

  • African Rainbow Family: A grassroots organisation offering free counselling, service signposting, and community events for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum and refugees.
  • Freedom from Fear to Love: Provides befriending, peer support, and individual and group therapy.
  • Say it Loud Club: Organises social events and monthly workshops, creating a safe space for LGBTQI+ refugees to express their sexuality.
  • Rainbows Across Borders: A community group in Croydon offering a platform for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum to share their experiences.

This list serves as a resource for LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum in London to access targeted support. More information is available about many other organisations across the UK that provide vital assistance to LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum. 

This Pride Month, we encourage you to share these resources widely to help LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum access the support they need.