Afghan gay asylum seekers told to act straight to survive


The UK has been accused of planning to tell desperate Afghan gay asylum seekers to “act straight” before sending them back to their dangerously homophobic country.

According to Human Rights Watch, new UK Home Office immigration rules published last month state that gay men in Afghanistan “would not face a real risk of persecution”.

The guidelines claim that “it may be a safe and viable option for a gay man to relocate to Kabul” while indicating in an annex that “the only option for a homosexual individual … would be to conceal their sexual orientation to avoid punishment”.

The reality is that homosexuality is illegal in Afghanistan and is punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. Under Sharia law, gay men could face the death penalty (although it’s believed that this has not been carried out since 2001).

The UK policy is also in conflict with UN guidelines that state that LGBT people “cannot be denied refugee status based on a requirement that they change or conceal their identity, opinions or characteristics in order to avoid persecution”.

“Members of the LGBT community in Afghanistan can only hope to escape abuse if they deny and suppress their sexual identities, marry as arranged by their families, have sex only with spouses, have children, and never have a sexual relationship outside that norm,” said Patricia Gossman, Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“But if they do,” she noted, “they risk arrest, prosecution, and violence from their families, the larger community and the government. Surely this does not count as living ‘safely.’”

The UK Home Office has been criticised in the past for the way it treats LGBT asylum seekers. A 2013 report revealed that some had been forced to present “photographic and video evidence of highly personal sexual activity to caseworkers, officers and the judiciary” to “prove” their sexuality.

In 2015, the UK’s Home Office announced that people seeking asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation would no longer be asked sexually explicit questions.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend