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Fear of being persecuted over being gay and/or a woman is not reason enough to claim asylum in the UK, Suella Braverman is set to argue in an upcoming speech.

The Home Secretary will address the rising numbers of people crossing the English Channel in small boats by controversially arguing that nobody doing so “is fleeing imminent peril”.

In her address to the American Enterprise Institute, a centre-right think tank in Washington DC, on 26 September, she will add: “Let me be clear, 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.

“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.”

Braverman’s words echo Home Office minister Chris Philp, who alleged that “some people claim to be gay when they’re not” in order to suggest they are fleeing danger.

“When I was immigration minister I came across a number of cases when people had claimed to be gay, produced photographs of them and a sort of same-sex partner and it turned out on further investigation it was a sibling, it wasn’t a same-sex partner at all,” he told Times Radio earlier today.

“Many LGBTQI+ people that we support every day tell us how they faced life-threatening situations back home”

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.

Referencing a case the charity recently dealt with, Zadeh added: “For example, Adams was violently attacked in the street on several occasions by members of his community in Ghana because he was bisexual, and his partner was killed, and Miky’s brother threatened to kill him when he came out as a gay man in Azerbaijan.

“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.

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“They also face the enormous challenge of having to ‘prove’ their sexual orientation or gender identity to get refugee status.

“Most of us welcome refugees and want to help people who are fleeing for their lives. The Home Secretary should stop her cruel rhetoric and instead create an asylum system that treats people with dignity and compassion.”

Rishi Sunak recently promised to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel, though his efforts to do so have been met with fierce opposition from human rights campaigners.

His plan to send those seeking asylum to Rwanda is currently tied up in courts, while attempts to place people on a barge off the coast of Dorset are on hold after deadly bacteria was found onboard.