14th April 2016 UK.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights (APPG LGBT) that recently had an inquiry into breaches of LGBT rights worldwide which African Rainbow Family and Aderonke Apata contributed to, has today, published its first report on UK stance on international breaches of LGBT rights.
We welcome the findings and recommendations of APPG LGBT report particularly as it recognises that in the Home Office concerning LGBT asylum seekers: “The decision-making process needs to be improved in assessing LGBT asylum cases through improved staff training, potentially appointing specialist caseworkers for LGBT asylum cases. The policy guidance on gender identity claims needs to be reviewed”.
The need to offer protection to LGBT asylum seekers by the UK is equally paramount says members of African Rainbow Family who collectively say:
“We flee from these countries that this report has identified to breach our rights as LGBT people but we find it difficult why we are often not believed when we claim asylum in the UK based on our sexual orientation and gender identity due to our fears of persecution back in our home countries! We face the threat of deportation to violence from the UK, we hope this report will make a dramatic change in the handling of our claims, stop detaining us and subjecting us to more torture in the UK”
The report also goes to say “Voluntary groups fighting for LGBT rights in hostile environments around the world need more support from the UK, including the government, NGOs and businesses”. The report urges for “more practical support and funding for LGBT groups on the ground, as well as greater strategic co-ordination across government, to improve the effectiveness of British action”.
The group, which is supported by more than 100 MPs and Peers across the political parties, also calls for a clearly accountable figure to be appointed in Whitehall with the responsibility for co-ordinating and implementing a cross-government strategy.
The report states that 75 countries criminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults, accounting for 2.9 billion people or 40 per cent of the world’s population. The punishment for these offences can be severe, with penalties ranging from lashings, life imprisonment and, in eight countries, death. Over 400 million people live under laws which punish same-sex sexual activity with the death penalty.
Aderonke Apata, founder of African Rainbow Family, a Nigerian human right activist and LGBT Equality advocate in her reaction to the report says:
“It is a good report, the scope of its finding is wide-ranged and recommendations are encouraging. The bane of it all is in the implementation of its recommendations. Don’t forget that most of these countries that criminalise LGBT people inherited these anti LGBT laws from their colonial master, Britain. It is imperatively important therefore, that the UK apologises for the pains and agony caused to LGBT people as a resultant of this archaic law.
Consultations and partnership collaboration need to be established by the UK government and LGBT citizens/activists of these countries including local civil rights group to ensure issues of breaches of the rights of LGBT people are addressed in an holistic manner. I urge the APPG LGBT group not to allow their hard work get swept under the carpet or allow this innovative report gather dust on the shelve”. Aderonke continues.
The APPG LGBT says “Beyond a vulnerability to violence, the report finds that LGBT people in countries which are hostile to their rights face a range of challenges, including economic and social exclusion and restricted access to health and other vital services.
The 60-page report is the first produced by the APPG LGBT which was set up by parliamentarians from across the political parties in June last year. The group initiated a major inquiry into LGBT rights abuses, receiving submissions from over 40 organisations and individuals, and holding detailed oral evidence sessions at Westminster. The full report, including a summary of recommendations, can be found here”
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