James Alexander (2018) “You’re so different that your difference is you”

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This article has been produced on behalf of IARS as part of an Erasmus+ European wider project that seeks to draw on the experiences of LGBTI migrants in order to develop educational and training resources to support organisations provide better services to LGBT migrants. The research considers three main areas of interest: Treatment of LGBT migrants by UK Visa and Immigration; continued conflicts between sexual and gender identity and home culture acceptance and; barriers to acceptance within the UK gay scene. The project raised concerns that the UK Visa and Immigration was ‘passively homophobic’ highlighting the impact of a perceived default position that claims were being made on false grounds. There seems to be little awareness on the part of UKVI of the situation in claimants’ home countries and that the Home Office thought it was acceptable to send people back to countries where they are likely to be victims of violence and abuse. When settling in to life in the UK, LGBTI migrants often face discrimination due to both their migrant status and their sexual or gender identity. As such, supporting LGBTI migrants to gain the skills necessary, such as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, in order for them to make broader connections with other networks has been seen as a vital. However, concerns were also raised that certain sections of the ‘gay scene’ could also be intolerant causing LGBTI migrants to face further possible discrimination. One of the main findings of the research was that LGBTI migrants often feel more comfortable seeking support from organisations set up to serve the LGBTI community rather immigration specialists. To accommodate this many LGBTI organisations are operating in areas where they were not set up to do putting a strain on their time and resources. It has also led to recognition that immigration specialist organisations need to work harder to be more welcoming to LGBTI migrants. The article ends by making a number of practical and policy recommendations including: Immigration training for LGBTI organisations and LGBTI awareness training for immigration specialists, investment in targeted ESOL provision to empower LGBTI migrants to move between supportive networks and the need for UKVI to improve its decision making process for LGBT immigration cases.


immigration, LGBT, discrimination, asylum

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