Suella Braverman has said some asylum seekers try to get “special treatment” by pretending to be gay, after she was sharply criticised by Elton John for her comments about immigration.
The home secretary triggered a widespread backlash after she said fearing discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be enough to qualify for refugee status.
Labour said it was “dangerous rhetoric” given “homosexuality is criminalised and even subject to the death penalty in many countries”.
And legendary singer John warned on Wednesday that Braverman risked “further legitimising hate and violence” against LGBTQ+ people.
In an interview with ITV’s Peston programme to be broadcast tonight, Braverman defended her comments.
“What we see operationally is that people do game the system,” she said.
“They come to the UK, they purport to be homosexual in the effort to game our system, in the effort to get special treatment.”
"People purport to be gay when they're not actually gay"
Home Secretary @SuellaBraverman accuses asylum seekers of lying about their sexuality to gain refugee status in the UK
Full interview with @AnushkaAsthana tonight ⬇️
💻LIVE 9PM @itvpeston
— Peston (@itvpeston) September 27, 2023
Pressed on the comments, Braverman added: “I’m afraid we do see many instances where people purport to be gay when they’re not actually gay, but in order to get special treatment.”
The Home Office was unable to immediately provide figures on how many people seeking asylum pretend to be gay.
But official figures show that in in 2022 there were 1,024 initial decisions made on LGB asylum applications of which 72% were grants of asylum.
Not all of those people given asylum would necessarily have been granted protection on the basis of their sexual orientation.
In a speech the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank in Washington DC on Tuesday, Braverman argued immigration posed an “existential challenge” to the West.
“There are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman,” she said.
“Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary,”
“But we will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.”
The home secretary - whose intervention has been widely seen as part of a pitch for the Tory leadership should Rishi Sunak lose the next election - also said multiculturalism had “failed”.