Lords debate LGB asylum
Lord Scriven initiated a debate in the House of Lords today on the UK’s treatment of LGB (lesbian, gay, & bisexual) asylum seekers.
Lord Bate, Home Office minister, replied for the government.
The debate began:
Lord Scriven: To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to implement the recommendations in the report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration of March–June 2014 regarding the handling of asylum claims made on the grounds of sexual orientation, and if so, when.
Lord Bate: My Lords, the Home Office has been actively working to implement the recommendations. An updated asylum instruction considering sexual identity issues in the asylum claim has been issued. Approved training for staff is under development. These will ensure the sensitive and effective exploration of asylum claims based on sexuality. The Home Office is conducting “second pair of eyes” checks on all such claims to ensure the consistent recording of cases and more accurate data.
Lord Scriven: I thank the Minister for that Answer. He may be aware that an action plan has been agreed with third sector organisations that has become more “plan” than “action”. Can he say when the action plan will be implemented and, if not, will he write to me giving a date? Also, could the person overseeing the action plan be someone equivalent to the director of asylum, rather than a junior policy officer, as is presently the case?
The minister concluded the debate later, promising that training is being rolled out that should reduce some of the more offensive questions bisexual and other LGBT asylum seekers have faced:
Lord Bate: (O)ne of the recommendations in the chief inspector’s report was precisely that there should be a change to the training module that deals with how sensitively questions are asked of people making asylum applications on the grounds of sexuality. I am pleased to say that, as of this August, everyone in the asylum claims assessment directorate will have undergone that additional training.
Footnote: this piece was originally titled as LGBT but amended as the debate only covered issues of sexuality, not gender.