Victory for equality in ruling for homosexual asylum seekers
08 July 2010
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the right of gay asylum seekers to stay in the UK if they could show that they faced persecution in their home countries.
The court decided unanimously in favour of two men: an Iranian, known as HJ, and a Cameroonian, known as HT. They had claimed asylum in Britain but the Secretary of State for the Home Department refused the claim in both cases. The judges in the Court of Appeal had ruled that the men could live “reasonably tolerable” lives in their home countries if they concealed their sexuality.
The Supreme Court overturned this decision with the reasons that the men fled their countries after being attacked and – in the case of HJ from Iran – being expelled from school when his sexuality was discovered.
In Iran homosexual acts can be punished with flogging or execution, whereas in Cameroon gay men and women can be jailed from six months to five years for living their sexuality openly.
John Wadham, Legal Director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomed the decision. He said that the judgment would send a clear message to the government. “They must properly take into account a genuine risk of mistreatment due to a person’s sexuality when reviewing asylum status.”
Both men will now have their cases being reconsidered by the Home Office.
By Elisabeth Fischer