Government announces review into religious persecution and LGBT asylum claims

By agency reporter
May 24, 2019

The Government has announced it has commissioned a review into how the Home Office assesses asylum claims on the basis of religious, non-religious, or LGBT asylum.

Humanists UK, the national charity working on behalf of the non-religious, welcomed the news, adding that many non-religious people face severe persecution in countries where apostasy or blasphemy can mean ending up in jail or facing death, and the same is true for being LGBT or of a minority religion.

In response to a written question on how decision-makers assess religious and belief-based persecution claims, the Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes, announced the Government would conduct a review "to investigate the way claims based on religious grounds and LGBT+ are assessed", noting there are concerns about the way in which ‘vulnerable claims’ were being dealt with.

Caroline Nokes added: "The aim and approach of the review will be to ensure that empathy and religious literacy is considered by decision makers when assessing these highly complex claims, acknowledging the impact of their decision whilst ensuring appropriate rigour is applied as these routes can be open to fraudulent claims."

The question was prompted by Humanists UK member Hamza bin Walayat who was supported by Humanists UK in raising the issue with his MP Ivan Lewis. Hamza, who was finally granted asylum last week, received nationwide attention after it was revealed that the Home Office had a deeply flawed understanding of the nature of non-religious worldviews when rejecting his first asylum claim.

The Government’s review is in addition to the mandatory training of Home Office decision-makers on asylum claims, which was announced last week after Humanists UK worked with officials to introduce the training and subsequent materials.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented: "We welcome the Government’s review into asylum claims on the basis of religion or belief persecution and LGBT, the acknowledgement that they involve very vulnerable people, and the acceptance that decision-makers must better consider the evidence on religion or belief persecution, as well as empathy, in response to asylum applications. The right to asylum for those facing persecution is a matter of life and death and it is important that decision-makers recognise that non-religious beliefs such as humanism are equally protected under human rights law."

* Read the Minister's announcement here

* Humanists UK https://humanism.org.uk/

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