LGBTQ+ people are facing harassment, bullying and deteriorating mental health while being held in the UK’s immigration detention system, according to a groundbreaking new pilot study.
Content warning: This story may include topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable. Conducted by Dr Laura Harvey of the University of Brighton and supported by Rainbow Migration, a charity which provides practical and emotional support for LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum, the study looked at the experiences of five LGBTQ+ people in detention.
Four had been held in Immigration Removal Centres for several months and one in a Short-Term Holding Facility for 48 hours. Participants reported being subjected to verbal and physical homophobic abuse from other people held in detention, some of which came from people they were forced to share locked rooms with at night.
One said that someone “spat on my face for being a gay.” Many were scared of sharing their true gender identity and/or sexual orientation (three of the participants were gay men and two were non-binary) while in detention. “I was so scared” One of them, Johnson, had fled to the UK from a country in South Asia after their partner was killed in a homophobic attack and they faced repeated abuse from their family.