How are LGBT Asylum Claims from Bangladeshi Nationals viewed in the UK?
LGBT individuals with no or a precarious immigration status may be entitled to claim asylum in the UK if they have a well-founded fear of persecution should they return to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh remains one of 72 countries where homosexuality is illegal. In accordance with section 377 of the Bangladesh Penal Code, sexual activity between men, whether consensual or not, is illegal and punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Freedom House reported in 2017 that “societal discrimination (against LGBT persons) remains the norm”.
In 2016, Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mahbub, LGBTI activists were found hacked to death in Dhaka – a stark reminder of the intolerance and violence faced by sexual minorities. Their inability to trust law enforcement has often been justified as the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh has documented physical and sexual assaults on the LGBTI community by the police. Little has changed in recent years as sexual and gender minorities remain under “constant pressure and threat” in Bangladesh, according to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2018.
LGBTI persons in Bangladesh form a particular social group because they share an unchangeable characteristic fundamental to their identity. If these LGBTI persons are in the UK and unable or unwilling (due to fear) to avail themselves of the protection of their own country, they may fall under the Refugee Convention’s (1951 UN Geneva Convention) definition of a ‘refugee’. The UK is obligated under international law to grant asylum to people who could be persecuted if they are returned to their home country.
When granting asylum, Home Office decision-makers primarily seek to find out whether a person will face a real risk of persecution on account of their membership of such a group. An LGBT person from Bangladesh is more likely to be successful if:
- the person cannot live freely and openly as a LGBT person;
- the person is unable to obtain protection from persecution; and
- the person cannot relocate within the country to avoid the risk of persecution.
The Home Office has set out its general attitude to the above criteria in a Country Policy and Information Note published in November 2017. An LGBT person’s inability to live freely should go beyond merely attracting partners and maintaining a relationship. Their choice to live discreetly should not be a response to social pressure (cultural and religious reasons), rather it should be from a genuine fear of persecution. It is accepted that gay people are not systematically targeted and persecuted but may face persecution from non-state actors. Therefore, the specific facts of each case are crucial in influencing whether the above criteria are met.
Shaheen Mamun (Solicitor) of Black Antelope Law, alongside Counsel, Sharmistha Michaels of Drystone Chambers, have successfully represented several cases where Bangladeshi LGBT clients have been granted Refugee Leave to Remain at the First-tier Tribunal stage.
Sharmistha Michaels had the following to say:
‘The persecution of people because of their sexual or gender identity is unfortunately not a new phenomenon and the process of applying for asylum can be very daunting for members of the LGBTI community who are seeking safety and security through refugee status in the UK. People often have to face humiliating and bizarre questions and the allegation that they are simply lying about their sexuality at the asylum interview stage and before the First Tier Tribunal. We still see false stereotypes prevailing about how an LGBTI person should behave or appear, in decision letters, during cross-examination by the Home Office and even on occasion in the decisions of some Immigration Judges. This is despite the fact that Home Office Policy changed in 2015 in favour of a more sympathetic approach into the inquiry into an asylum seeker’s claim. Regardless of the problems with the conduct of asylum interviews for, the importance of these applications for a member of the Bangladeshi LGBT community seeking asylum is very clear, particularly given the criminalisation of same sex sexual activity, coupled with the worsening situation for LGBT people in Bangladesh’.
How can Black Antelope Law help you?
If you identify yourself as either Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersex (LGBTI), and cannot express this identity in fear of persecution you need to take action now.
Persecution is defined as the continued failure of a state to observe fundamental freedom and human rights coupled with the presence of serious harm by virtue of your membership to a particular social group: LGBTI.
As such, you have the right to Freedom of Expression by virtue of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which offers you protection. Identification as an LGBT equates to membership of a particular social group, and therefore you may be eligible to claim Asylum. Asylum is a complex area of law riddled with a myriad of laws, rules and polices governing it. It is therefore essential to seek the most effective and streamlined guidance for the sake of your identity.
Equipped with extensive knowledge and experience, the human rights centric team at Black Antelope Law are dedicated to defending and protecting your rights. Black Antelope Law specialises in all UK Immigration Law matters and has developed an exceptional expertise in all LGBT Asylum claims beyond the Bangladeshi community. We have a notable reputation for successfully representing LGBT clients of all backgrounds when seeking asylum. Our team is trained with the requisite sensitivity and understanding in order to provide the most comfortable experience during the course of your case. We are committed to helping members of the LGBTI community with these difficult applications and our team of experts can provide you with expert and sensitive advice on these claims. For more information, please contact us on 0330 223 3105 or [email protected] for a free initial discussion.