Transgender asylum seeker ‘relieved’ after just missing Rwanda deportation date

Exclusive: ‘I hope Britain does not take anyone to Rwanda,’ asylum seeker in his 20s says

Hundreds protest outside Home Office against Rwanda deportation plan

A transgender asylum seeker has said he is relieved to be safe from deportation to Rwanda after narrowly missing the start of the scheme.

Daniel, who wants to go by his first name only to protect his identity, told The Independent he was “glad” he could remain in the UK to seek asylum instead of being sent somewhere he fears is not safe.

Concerns have been raised for LGBT+ asylum seekers who would deported to Rwanda, with the Home Office even admitting this group could face persecution there.

Despite this, the government has been pushing ahead with the scheme to send asylum seekers who arrive in the UK “irregularly” - or not by the few safe and legal routes on offer - to the African country, where they can apply to stay instead.

It has also vowed to continue with the policy after the first scheduled deportation flight was grounded on Tuesday evening over human rights concerns.

Daniel says he hopes asylum seekers will be safe from deportation to Rwanda

Daniel, who is fleeing persecution in his home country in the Middle East, missed the cut-off date for deportation by just weeks.

The trans man in his 20s arrived in the UK last December, while the Home Office is now attempting to deport those who arrived from 1 January this year.

“I’m glad I won’t go,” Daniel tells The Independent. “But I’m sad Britain wants to send aslyum seekers who are having a hard time.

“I hope Britain does not take anyone to Rwanda”.

The Home Office released an equality impact assessment into the policy last month, which said there were “concerns” over the treatment of some LGBTQ+ people in the east African country and investigations suggested “ill treatment” of this group was “more than a one-off”.

It also found LGBT+ people and those from the Middle East - of which Daniel is both - face discrimination in the asylum decision-making.

Concerns were raised to the Priti Patel’s Home Office about the safety of LGBT people in Rwanda

Ministers claim its policy to deport asylum seekers who arrive “irregularly” to Rwanda will help to disrupt the activities of people smugglers.

Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the government would continue pushing the policy after the first flight was grounded on Tuesday.

“We will not be deterred from doing the right thing and delivering our plans to control our nation’s borders,” she said.

Detainees at Brook House immigration detention centre chant 'No Rwanda'

But while Daniel is relieved to be protected from any future flights, he is not without his challenges in the UK.

He says he feels “more free and comfortable” as a trans man in the UK compared to his home country in the Middle East, which The Independent is not disclosing to protect his identity.

But he is desperate to earn money and get his asylum claim processed, so he is able to afford the necessary hormones and operations. “I am so sad that I can not work here,” he says.

He adds: “Britain is a good country. It has freedom for everyone, but it has a long system for dealing with asylum seekers.”

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