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Government announces review into religious persecution and LGBT asylum claims

The UK Government has announced it is conducting a review into how the Home Office assesses asylum claims on the basis of religious, non-religious, or LGBT asylum, following Humanists UK’s work to raise the issue in Parliament.

Humanists UK, the national charity working on behalf of the non-religious, welcomed the review, 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 a response on how decision-makers assess religious and belief-based persecution claims, 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 Humanists UK supported to raise 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.’

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For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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