UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group began in 1993, as Stonewall Immigration Group, when there was no provision in UK immigration rules to allow a foreign person to live in the UK with their same sex partner and no provision allowing people to claim asylum on the grounds that they feared or experienced persecution because of their sexual orientation. Our service is based in London but we provide assistance to anyone who telephones our helpline, emails us or attends our meetings.
During the years that the group has been providing immigration support, information and advice to the lesbian and gay community, we have had enormous success. We achieved the first legal equality of any sort for gay men and lesbians in the UK with the creation of the Unmarried Partners Rule. This precedent is considered to have had a vital influence on the consequent development of the Civil Partnership Act, and we provided major input into the immigration section of the Act.
As the area of need within our community changes from same‑sex couples, who now have immigration equality with heterosexuals, to those persecuted because of their sexuality, we continue to use our experience, expertise, reputation and skills to promote human rights and eliminate discrimination through the provision of support to LGBTI persons seeking asylum.
The work to support lesbian and gay asylum seekers began when, as a result of increasingly frequent contacts from asylum seekers and their solicitors, we became more aware of a worrying lack of support for this group. Our solicitor volunteers, amongst whom the top 5 immigration firms in London are represented, were experiencing similarly increased demands for help.
We support those seeking asylum due to fear of persecution on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity, by:
- raising awareness amongst asylum seekers of the issues and the assistance that is available;
- providing the opportunity for regular meetings with each other to combat isolation, to foster both a sense of community and a sense of safety and to integrate into the LGBTI communities in the U.K;
- providing independent, quality legal information and advice on immigration issues;
- providing an information sharing facility for those working with LGBTI asylum seekers;
- creating a resource of information on those countries where persecution of LGBTI people exists.
For more information please see our latest annual report