The LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council is deeply troubled by reports of humiliating and insensitive lines of interrogation of LGBT+ asylum seekers by the Home Office. Such experiences of Home Office prejudice are often shared by LGBT+ refugees within our own Catholic community. We applaud the Metropolitan Community Church – North London for undertaking this important survey, as well as the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) and Pink News for publicising the Report. (LGBT African Asylum Seeker Research Project :http://mccnorthlondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/LGBT-African-Asylum-Seeker-Research-Project-Report.pdf)
The LGBT African Asylum Seeker Research Project Report refers to inappropriate behaviour by Home Office officials, including suggestions to applicants that “it isn’t possible to be gay and Christian”, and references to Bible verses which have frequently been misused to justify homophobic abuse. The reports also raise concerns about the integrity of the application process, with refusals justified on the grounds that discrete individuals were unable to prove their orientation because they hadn’t disclosed this to their families, or because of their dependence on non-LGBT+ friends.
Having an LGBT+ identity is normal and occurs in people of all faiths, all cultures and all ethnic groups. There are several LGBT+ Christian groups both in the UK and around the world, and the mere suggestion that it isn’t possible to be both LGBT+ and Christian is wrong.
The Home Office makes a valuable contribution to community safety and walks a difficult line in the course of fulfilling this duty. However, any harassing, humiliating or persecutory treatment on any account is unacceptable. It contravenes the principles of the UK’s Human Rights Act, and is in violation of the Home Office’s own responsibility to fight crime in all its forms.
We urge the Home Office to issue a statement about these reports and, if they are true, to conduct an independent investigation into its practices and procedures.