Thursday, 8 July 2010

They're letting gays in now, you know! Whatever next?

I suppose it was to be expected really. The right-wing press was never gonna be able to ignore the chance to make headlines about gay asylum seekers. Still, I was a bit taken aback to see the Express going with the monumentally crass headline of NOW ASYLUM IF YOU'RE GAY. As the front-page lead. I don't know why I occasionally let these things surprise me, I mean, yesterday's front page was about how the Muslims are forcing everyone to swim in the dark due to, like, PC gone mad.

Anyway, the real story goes like this; two homosexual men (from Cameroon and Iran) who were claiming asylum here have been allowed to stay, at least for now. There's a rather sensible rule that says that, due to our tree-hugging, sandal-wearing "not really wanting people to die" policy, we don't send potential asylum claimants back to countries where they are genuinely fleeing real persecution. In this case, the two men have successfully argued that they would suffer persecution in the not particularly gay-friendly countries they came from. The applicant from Cameroon, for example, had been physically attacked for being gay in his own country, so this seems to be a reasonable claim.

The Court of Appeal, however, initially rejected this argument on the grounds that they could go back and just, y'know, pretend not to be gay. Or least not be so bloody gay about it. This suggestion has now been overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was, and I'm paraphrasing a touch here, fucking stupid. So now the two men will be allowed to live here instead of being forced to return to countries that don't want them.

As you'd expect, the Express reacts to this decision with the heart-warming humanitarian glow they're renowned for. By which I mean, whining that "ASYLUM claims could soar after judges upheld appeals by two gay men who were to be deported" and "Campaigners last night warned it could mean millions might try to claim they are gay to qualify for asylum in Britain".

And who might these campaigners be? Take a minute to guess. Go on. I'll give you a clue; it's not really a public finance issue so the Taxpayers' Alliance aren't really appropriate for once, so just consider who else is on the Express' speed-dial. You there yet? If you said "Sir Andrew Green of Migrationwatch" and "Tory MP and perennial rent-a-quote gobshite Philip Davies", then take a swift drink because you're depressingly, soul-crushingly right!

This is how the Express and others are choosing to deal with the story. It's a thorny issue, so instead of arguing with the decision on moral or ethical grounds, which they can't really do without looking like they might have some kind of problem with gays and foreigners, just moan about how it obviously means that by 2015 the country will be sinking into the sea under the sheer weight of Iranians ostentatiously brandishing Scissor Sisters albums to try and pass as gay. So, Green takes the "obviously we don't want people getting beaten to death for being gay, but maybe we should pull out of international conventions on asylum" line, while Davies can be relied on for a bit of largely baseless scaremongering;
Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “It’s a dangerous game to play to go down this line because it’s quite feasible that this could offer an ideal line of defence for someone who wants to try to avoid being kicked out of the country, whether it is true or not that they are gay.

“By its very nature, it’s very difficult to prove one way or another. My concern would be that this may well be exploited by some people as a way of avoiding deportation.”
I mean, never mind that these cases will come to an actual court, which will weigh up the evidence and have to decide not only whether or not the person concerned is actually gay, but also how well-founded their fear of persecution is. Let's just pretend that this is going to lead to any failed asylum seeker suddenly saying "oh yeah, did I mention I'm gay?" and being carried out of court under a hail of ticker tape with a sincere apology and a fistful of benefit money.

The whole tone of the article is just profoundly dispiriting, concerned not with the plight of two real human beings (which is what the story should really be about), but with what it may mean for the number of foreign-looking dudes we have invading our green and pleasant land. Still, at times like this we have to be thankful for small mercies such as this;
"Have Your Say" is unavailable for this story.


  1. ""Have Your Say" is unavailable for this story."

    Sadly not.