The United Kingdom Supreme Court has ruled that two gay asylum seekers should not have to live discreetly and hide their sexuality in their home countries, accepting them as genuine refugees in a case that will have ramifications for all persons claiming asylum on the grounds of sexuality in the UK.
A Cameroonian man, codenamed HT during the trial, had been told by a Court of Appeal that he could be sent home, despite being attacked by a mob armed with knives after he was seen kissing his partner.
An Iranian man, codenamed HJ, had been told by the Court of Appeal to expect persecution in his home country which punishes homosexuality with the death penalty, but that he could return home and avoid danger by being discreet.
The men were supported in taking their case to the Supreme Court by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refuges in London.
The judgement found British authorities should base future decisions on refugees claiming asylum for reasons of sexuality on whether it was necessary for a person to conceal their sexuality to avoid persecution in their home country – not whether they could hide it to avoid persecution.
“What is protected is the applicant’s right to live freely and openly as a gay man,” Supreme Court Justice Lord Richard Rodger wrote.
“Just as male heterosexuals are free to enjoy themselves playing rugby, drinking beer and talking about girls with their mates, so male homosexuals are to be free to enjoy themselves going to Kylie concerts, drinking exotically coloured cocktails and talking about boys with their straight female mates.”
In reading the judgement Justice Lord David Hope said, “To compel a homosexual person to pretend that his sexuality does not exist or suppress the behaviour by which to manifest itself is to deny him the fundamental right to be who he is.”