Elton John and his partner David Furnish have warned Suella Braverman that she “risks further legitimising hate and violence” against LGBTQIA+ people after stating that being gay isn’t reason enough to seek asylum in the UK.
In a joint statement shared on Instagram last night, the couple wrote that they are “very concerned about the UK Home Secretary’s comments stating how discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be reason enough to qualify for protection under international refugee laws.”
During an appearance at the American Enterprise Institute, a centre-right think tank in Washington DC, on 26 September, Braverman acknowledged that “there are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman”.
“Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary,” she continued.
“But we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
In their statement, John and Furnish reminded Braverman that the “extremely difficult” environments she alluded to are a lot worse than she mentioned.
“Nearly a third of all nations class LGBTQ+ people as criminals and homosexuality is still punishable by death in 11 countries,” they wrote.
“Dismissing the very real danger LGBTQ+ communities face risks further legitimising hate and violence against them.
“Leaders need to provide more compassion, support and acceptance for those seeking a safer future.”
“The silence by supposedly pro-LGBT+ Tory MPs is deafening”
There has been widespread backlash to Braverman’s comments, with the Home Secretary being accused of “grandstanding against” the LGBTQIA+ community.
Leila Zadeh, Executive Director at Rainbow Migration, a charity that helps LGBTQIA+ people through the asylum and immigration system, said she was “appalled” by Braverman “questioning the legitimacy of LGBTQI+ people claiming asylum in the UK”.
“Many LGBTQI+ people that we support every day tell us how they faced life-threatening situations back home,” she told GAY TIMES, adding: “The government’s own statistics suggest that only two per cent of all asylum claims in 2022 included sexual orientation as a reason for needing protection. It is already the case that LGBTQI+ people must face a well-founded fear of persecution to qualify for refugee protection in the UK.”
Jayne Ozanne, a former government advisor on LGBTQIA+ issues and chair of the Ban Conversion Therapy coalition, tweeted that she was left “utterly speechless” by Bravermans words.
“Yet more proof of the anti-LGBT+ rhetoric this govt is determined to engage in ahead of election,” she continued.
“The silence by supposedly pro-LGBT+ Tory MPs is deafening!”
“In many countries, LGBTQ+ people face prison or execution simply for being themselves”
Nadia Whtitome, Labour MP for Nottingham East, was among a number of government officials who publicly spoke out against Braverman.
“In many countries, LGBTQ+ people face prison or execution simply for being themselves,” she explained.
“If that’s not reason enough to seek asylum, what is?
“These vile comments should be condemned across the political spectrum.”
Prominent human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell urged Braverman to “listen to LGBT+ refugees before she makes false allegations against them”.
“No one gets asylum in [the] UK merely because they are gay or suffer discrimination,” he added.
“They have to produce evidence that they are gay AND evidence of persecution.”