LGBTQ+ refugees on list of people to be sent to Rwanda – despite Tory government knowing it’s unsafe
A report has found that a number of people at risk of being deported to Rwanda are LGBTQ+, even though the UK Government has admitted there is evidence queer refugees could face persecution in the country.
Analysis by refugee charity Care4Calais found that of 213 asylum seekers who have received Rwanda Notices of Intent from the Home Office since August 2022, three identified as LGBTQ+ and 13 were women.
In 2022, the UK announced a scheme that would see refugees who arrived in Britain via small boats and lorries deported to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed there.
The first deportation flight to Rwanda was due to take off in June 2022, but was grounded following a series of legal challenges. No flights have since been scheduled.
Originally intended to focus on single men arriving in the UK from Calais, France, in small boats, it has now been found that women, married men, and LGBTQ+ people have also been targeted by the policy.
Care4Calais found that nearly half (38.5 per cent) of its Rwanda clients are married, and around 20 per cent of them have children.
66 per cent of those in the sample reported indicators of modern slavery or torture, with several reporting to the charity that they had been tortured at home or on their journey to the UK.
“People who have suffered the horrors of war, torture and human rights abuses should not be faced with the immense trauma of deportation to a future where we cannot guarantee their safety,” the charity said in a statement.
“The evidence we have collected shows that the Rwanda policy is targeting victims of some of the worst things imaginable, who are very likely to have viable asylum claims here in the UK.”
‘They’re human beings. They have a story’
The Rwanda policy has faced immense backlash and legal challenges since being announced, with campaigners warning it could result in the deaths of LGBTQ+ refugees.
Over 170 organisations including Stonewall, Rainbow Migration, Micro Rainbow and Greenpeace UK called on the government in April 2022 to scrap the “cruel” and “immoral” policy.
Gay Rwandan refugee Innocent – whose name was changed to protect his identity – previously spoke to PinkNews about his experience moving to the UK, pleading with Home Secretary Suella Braverman to see asylum seekers as human beings.
“It’s definitely not a safe environment,” Innocent told PinkNews. “They are not going to be protected, and they’re going to face discrimination. Some of them have already faced discrimination their entire lives and they went to the UK hoping that was going to change.”
He added: “We’re not talking about material that we can just ship to another place – they’re human beings. They have a story. They’re coming to the UK because they’ve already faced discrimination and injustice in their lives.
“So let’s create an environment and try to understand them.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office told PinkNews: “Everyone in scope for relocation to Rwanda will be individually assessed, and no one will be relocated if it is unsafe or inappropriate for them.
“If an individual’s circumstances change after receipt of a Notice of Intent, this should be communicated to us at the earliest opportunity and their case will be reviewed.”