The British Government has announced that the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) will be abolished. The body has had a controversial immigration record leading to human rights activists recently highlighting the extreme lengths being endured by LGBT asylum claimants, including filming sex tapes, to prove their sexuality.
The UK Home Secretary Theresa May told the country’s parliament on Tuesday that the UKBA’s “performance was not good enough.” The minister also noted the “closed, secretive and defensive culture” which had prevailed within the organization.
The news of the UKBA being scrapped comes just two weeks after the death of Jackie Nanyonjo. Ugandan woman Nanyonjo was deported from the UK on January 12 despite her claims that as a lesbian, she faced anti-gay persecution in her homeland. Campaigners had demanded an immediate overhaul of how at-risk asylum seekers are treated by the UK border authorities.
UK lawyer S. Chelvan, a leading expert in asylum claims based on sexual or gender identity, spoke to 429Magazine about the problems with UKBA and the difficulties faced by asylum claimants.
He said that the body was “not applying their own internal guidance [on self-identification]” and that there was a belief among asylum seekers that “only by filming sexual conduct with a member of the same sex can they prove that they’re gay.”
Chelvan gave the example of someone from a country like Iran who could be wary about considering sexual activity based on the prevailing culture there. In this case, the individual identifies as gay but could still have been deported because of the UKBA’s “fixation in relation to sexual conduct.”