'Inhuman and degrading': Gay asylum seekers feel they must go to extreme lengths to prove their sexuality, including filming themselves having sex

S Chelvan, a barrister at No 5 Chambers, blames strict UK Border Agency demands for the desperate measures

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The Independent Online

A leading barrister has warned that gay asylum seekers believe they have to go to extreme lengths to prove their sexuality in order to meet strict UK Border Agency demands.

S Chelvan, a barrister at No 5 Chambers who specialises in immigration and asylum law, told HuffPost UK that some asylum seekers feel they have to go as far as producing videos of themselves having sex in order to prove they are gay and at risk of persecution in their country.

Changes introduced by the UK Border Agency have shifted the emphasis of official assessments to establishing whether or not claimants are genuinely lesbian or gay, according to immigration experts.

Prior to a landmark ruling 2010, those seeking asylum because they were at risk if returned to states where homosexuality is illegal were refused permission mainly on the grounds that they could behave with discretion when they returned.

Refusals are now more commonly made on the basis that claimants are not, or cannot prove, that they are gay, lesbian or transsexual,

Speaking to HuffPost UK, Mr Chelvan said: “All asylum seekers need to prove they are at risk of persecution. We have to accept that a gay asylum seeker must prove they are gay. But how do you do it?”

Mr Chelvan blamed an “embedded culture of disbelief” for a “clear breach of human rights”, adding that although no court would ask an asylum seeker of themselves having sex, gay asylum seekers still feel they have to go to these lengths.

Mr Chelvan said: “They go to desperate measures. It shows the system has broken down to push gay asylum seekers to have to go to such extremes… it's inhuman and degrading.”

Mr Chelvan will outline the need for reform in the annual Stonewall Lecture to be hosted by the Law Society tomorrow.