Pride Month is celebrated every year in June, when members of the LGBTQI＋ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex ＋ additional identities) community and their allies come together in solidarity to celebrate their culture and freedom, and to call for further rights globally.
During this year’s Pride Month, it is important to remain cognisant of challenges currently facing the LGBTQI＋ community. Such challenges are magnified for LGBTQI＋ refugees who are already in vulnerable situations and facing discrimination.
One such challenge has been presented recently by the UK home secretary, Priti Patel, with her plan to offshore refugees on a one-way ticket to Rwanda. In this new £120m scheme, paid for by the British taxpayer, there has been an alleged failure to identify risks facing LGBTQI＋ people who have fled life-threatening situations in their home countries.
A point of concern is that there is evidence of ill-treatment and abuse faced by LGBTQI＋ people in Rwanda.
Although homosexuality was decriminalised in Rwanda in 2010, the LGBTQI＋ community remain stigmatised in society. For instance, Human Rights Watch reported last year that Rwandan authorities rounded up and arbitrarily detained over a dozen gay and transgender people before a high-profile international conference.
Despite this, the UK government’s assessment of Rwanda’s human rights record states that there were “not substantial grounds” for believing LGBTQI＋ people would be at risk of treatment contrary to article 3 (freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European convention of human rights.
The United Nations has firmly opposed the UK-Rwanda deal, saying offshoring schemes like these evade international obligations under the Refugee Convention and wealthy nations should provide their share of safety for asylum seekers.
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