LONDON: Thousands of Pakistani immigrants are seeking asylum in the UK, citing the persecution of homosexuals in their home country as one of the main reasons. Government figures show as many as one in five claims is made on the basis of sexuality, reported a foreign media outlet.
However, less than half of those citing sexuality as the main reason for the claim, or those who have cited issues with the sexuality, have actually been granted asylum. The majority of those seeking asylum on the basis of persecution for being gay or bisexual are from Pakistan. It is followed by Bangladesh and Nigeria.
Home Office statistics show sexual orientation was raised as part of the asylum cases in just over 3,500 claims. This equates to 6 per cent of the 58,700 applications between July 2015 and the end of March. One thousand of those claims were based on sexual orientation as the key issue.
Claimants were granted asylum either in the first decision or on appeal in less than half of cases, at 440. In the same 24-month period, 3,535 claims involving sexual orientation were submitted to the Home Office. A total of 1,355 – around 38 percent – were accepted.
“This is a welcome step forward but they raise a series of concerns: the statistics do not provide any information as to why a person seeking asylum on account of their sexuality was refused, trans people are excluded entirely and we do not know how many people were detained upon seeking asylum,” said Paul Dillane, executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust.
Dillane, whose charity campaigns on LGBT rights, said the Home Office has been lobbied for years.
“Asylum claims by LGBT people are often matters of life or death. We urge the Home Office to take proactive steps … to ensure LGBT people fleeing persecution are genuinely protected.”
The Home Office said figures were “experimental” and should be treated with caution because they were based on internal management information.
In 2016, Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed the number of people in Britain who identify as being either “gay or lesbian” or “bisexual” stood at approximately 1,026,000. This figure was up 11.4 per cent on the previous year; the largest increase since ONS records began.
Homosexuality is largely taboo in Pakistan and a number of influential clerics have called for punishments for same sex relationships. Some cities like Karachi are opening up to the idea, and underground “sex clubs” are widely spoken of.
However, in more rural areas where kangaroo courts rule, punishments can be rape and killing.