Call for Evidence
Terms of Reference
The Women and Equalities Committee is examining the fairness of the UK asylum process for people with different protected characteristics as defined in the UK Equality Act.
Individuals seeking asylum in the UK are often doing so to escape state-sponsored or tolerated discrimination and persecution. This persecution is often, although not always, based on the individual possessing certain protected characteristics, as set out in the UK by the Equality Act 2010.
The Government’s information on claiming asylum states that individuals must be unable to live safely in their own country because they fear persecution because of:
- political opinion
- anything else that puts you at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political situation in your country, for example, your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that define the term ‘refugee’ and outline the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them. The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom (UNHCR).
Women have specific protections in international law. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), to which the UK is a signatory, requires States to ensure that the asylum grounds in the 1951 Refugee Convention are interpreted in a gender-sensitive manner and develop gender-sensitive reception procedures and support services for asylum seekers.
The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group found that in the year 2009–2010, between 98% and 99% of all asylum claims in made in the UK by lesbian and gay people were rejected at the initial interview stage, compared with a 73% rejection rate for other asylum claims. The Guardian has also reported that in 2019 the Home Office rejected thousands of LGBTQI+ asylum claims.
The inquiry is seeking evidence on the questions below. You can answer as many or as few questions as you like. You can submit evidence to this inquiry until Monday 8 November.
The Committee encourages evidence from individuals as well as organisations, but please see some important information about making a submission and signposting to support services, below.
Terms of reference
Asylum and protected characteristics
- What is the nature and extent of UK asylum claims based on discrimination or persecution relating to the protected characteristics?
- Are those with certain protected characteristics more or less likely to be granted asylum in the UK?
- What is the nature and extent of the dangers for those with protected characteristics who are seeking asylum in the UK?
The asylum process for individuals with protected characteristics
- Is the UK asylum process safe and fair for those with protected characteristics?
- Are individuals with certain protected characteristics more at risk of harm or unfair treatment when going through the UK asylum process?
- Are particular protected characteristics given priority in the asylum process?
- What challenges do those with protected characteristics face on the basis of those characteristics if they are granted asylum in the UK?
- What specific issues do those with certain protected characteristics face?
- Do current domestic and international laws and conventions governing the UK’s asylum process provide effective protection against discrimination for those with protected characteristics?
- How is the Government addressing any discrimination or specific dangers for those with protected characteristics in the asylum process, and what more could be done?
- How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected those with protected characteristics who are seeking asylum?
Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme
The Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme is a route which is separate, and in addition, to other processes and schemes.
- In what ways does the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme differ from other routes to claiming asylum?
- Are people resettled through the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme more likely to be facing persecution based on certain protected characteristics?
- What measures are needed to support people with certain protected characteristics arriving via the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme route?
This inquiry will not directly feed into the Nationality and Borders bill, however this does not preclude the Committee from considering evidence that addresses proposals in the bill.
Important information about your submission
Please read this section before making a submission. This information is particularly important for people making written submissions in an individual capacity, and about their own lived experience.
Written evidence must address the terms of reference as set out above, but please note that submissions do not have to address every point. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available here.
In line with the general practice of select committees the Women and Equalities Committee is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.
How your submission will be treated
The Committee has discretion over which submissions it accepts as evidence, and which of those it then publishes on its website. If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online. It will then be available permanently for anyone to view and may be found online by using search engines. It cannot be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider how much personal information you want or need to share.
Your contact details will never be published.
Evidence accepted by the Committee is protected by parliamentary privilege. However, if published evidence suggests that criminal behaviour has occurred, there is no bar on external bodies investigating that behaviour, which may lead them to find independent evidence which could be put before a court.
Decisions about publishing evidence anonymously are made by the Committee. If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission anonymously (meaning it will be published but without your name) please tick the box when you make your submission. This lets the Committee know what you would like but the final decision will be taken by the Committee.
If you would like to request that your submission be published anonymously then you are responsible for ensuring you cannot be identified from your submission. Please make sure you have not included information that would allow someone to work out who you are.
We may anonymise or redact some of your submission if it is published, even where you have not requested this.
The Committee may decide to accept evidence on a confidential basis. Confidential submissions remain available to the Committee but are not published or referred to in public.
If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission confidentially please tick the box when you make your submission. This lets the Committee know what you would like but the final decision will be taken by the Committee.
We may treat submissions confidentially, even where you have not requested this.
Information about other people in your evidence
If you include personal information about other people in your submission (including your friends and family), the Committee may decide not to publish it. It is advisable to make your submission about your own experiences and to keep information about other people to a minimum.
If your evidence raises any safeguarding concerns about you, or other people, then the Committee has a duty to raise these with the appropriate safeguarding authority.
We can’t publish submissions that mention ongoing legal cases. Please do not include details of an ongoing case, or details that are likely to be the subject of future proceedings, in your submission.
Committees of the House of Commons are not able to take up individual cases but if you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants can provide free advice on asylum and immigration law.
We understand that the issues raised in this inquiry will be distressing for people. If you need support or guidance, you can contact Samaritans 24 Hours a day, every day:
If you need additional advice or support on a range of issues you can contact Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444
There are organisations you can contact if you need support or advice about the asylum process:
Refugee Council The Refugee Council’s Infoline connects refugees and people seeking asylum with support organisations.
Advice line: 0808 196 7272. The advice line is a live national Freephone line open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday between 9.30am and 12.30pm.
Refugee Action Provides advice and guidance for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, including about.
- the asylum process
- claiming asylum
- getting the support you’re entitled to while you claim asylum
- homelessness support
Migrant Help Services include:
- Asylum Support
- Victims of slavery and human trafficking support
- Refugee resettlement
- EU resettlement scheme
- Interpreting services
Migrant Help Free helpline 0808 8010 503
Detention Action Provides support for people in immigration detention.
- Detention Action is a charity that provides emotional and practical support for people in immigration detention.
- We are completely independent from the Home Office and from the detention centres.
Advice line: 0800 587 2096
This call for written evidence has now closed.Go back to Equality and the UK asylum process Inquiry