Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Britain becomes safe heaven for gay refugees

The UK Supreme Court issued a finding today that gay refugees from countries that discriminate against homosexuality may not be send back to their home countries if there is a risk that they might be persecuted at home. The new conservative-liberal government promised to implement the ruling immediately, adding that they already have stopped sending such refugees back to their home countries. Initially, UK Home Office officials came up with the ingenious idea that gay people, after their deportation, should simply hide their sexual orientation at home, and so they would be fine. Lower courts agreed with the Home Office proposition, but the justices of the Supreme Court decided that that would constitute a violation of these gay people's human rights.

Here are bits from the finding that I did truly enjoy (taken from the UK Guardian website):

Deputy court president Lord Hope said in his ruling: "The ultra-conservative interpretation of Islamic law that prevails in Iran is one example. The rampant homophobic teaching that rightwing evangelical Christian churches indulge in throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa is another."

A "huge gulf" had opened up in attitudes towards gay people, he said. "It is one of the most demanding social issues of our time. Our own government has pledged to do what it can to resolve the problem, but it seems likely to grow and to remain with us for many years." More gay and lesbian people were likely to have to seek protection in this country if it was denied in their home countries, he said.

Another member of the court, Lord Rodger, said normal behaviour of gay people must be protected just as it was for heterosexual people. "What is protected is the applicant's right to live freely and openly as a gay man. To illustrate the point with trivial stereotypical examples from British society: just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates."

Leaving aside for a moment the characterization of gay men as being typically this or being typically that, the point is well taken that if this is how you express your identity you have every right in the universe to do so without risking your life. You can see how important this judgment is when you look at how bad the situation for gay people in many countries is.

1 comment:

  1. It's not before time. Other members of the UK judiciary have been giving ample evidence of institutional homophobia. Read the words of Judge Freeman from a case decided in 2005, for example:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/aug/21/immigration.iran

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