The UK was condemned for deeming India and Georgia “safe” for people fleeing persecution

Plans to consider India and Georgia as “safe” countries to send asylum seekers to the UK are being heavily criticized by migration organisations.

At the end of last year, the government announced his intention to update the list of “safe states” in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to “expedite the process of repatriation of persons who have entered illegally from either country”.

Suella Braverman, the then interior minister, said this was part of the implementation of the goal Very controversial Illegal migration law that allows people entering the country via “illegal” routes – such as crossing the English Channel in small boats – to be arrested and deported.

“We must stop people making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from essentially safe countries,” she said in November. “Expanding this list will allow us to more quickly remove people who have no right to be here and sends a clear message that if you come here illegally, you will not be allowed to stay.”

In front of the MPs Discussion of the proposed changes on January 10th, Rainbow migrationA charity that provides practical and emotional support to LGBTQIA+ people seeking asylum has highlighted that plans to send asylum seekers to India and Georgia do not take into account the safety of those who are queer.

READ MORE: Government condemned for passing 'cruel and callous' illegal migration law

“It is dangerous to single out people based on their nationality,” a spokesman said Gay times.

“Everyone should have the right to seek safety here when they need it, regardless of where they come from.

“Imagine experiencing violence in your home country because you are LGBTQI+ and fleeing to the UK in the hope of finding safety, only to be told your country is considered safe for everyone and you immediately be sent back. It's absolutely cruel.

“Most of us would welcome LGBTQI+ people who cannot be themselves in other countries and hope to rebuild their lives in the UK. They should be welcomed and supported so that they can live safely here, regardless of their country of origin.”

The government's own travel advisories include warnings for LGBTQIA+ people visiting Georgia and India

“Safe” countries are currently listed below Section 80AA of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 These include, among others, Spain, Switzerland, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, France, Germany and Denmark.

As a result of the proposed changes, the charity fears that those eligible for refugee status from Georgia or India may never have their protection claims assessed in the UK – meaning they could be sent back to their respective countries, where they could face persecution could threaten.

That of the government own travel advice notes that “Indian society remains conservative,” which “includes attitudes toward LGBT+ people that may be less accepting than in the UK.”

READ MORE: “As a gay man who fled Rwanda, I am appalled by the UK government’s asylum plan.”

It even goes so far as to acknowledge that “the risk of harassment and discrimination exists, particularly outside major cities.”

When it comes to Georgia, that is Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) warns that “LGBT+ people could face discrimination there” and that – although homosexuality is legal – “same-sex relationships are still not widely accepted”.

“Showing affection in public can lead to discrimination or harassment,” it says. “Homophobic harassment and attacks occur.”

Rainbow Migration works with LGBTQIA+ people who have fled persecution

In 2023, Rainbow Migration supported Noah, a gay man who fled Georgia due to homophobic persecution.

He had been physically attacked by family members, had to stay in a hospital for people with mental illness, and was even subjected to an exorcism in a church.

Despite this, and despite his partner's attack, he felt unprotected by the authorities in the region.

READ MORE: Right-wing protesters storm Pride festival in Georgia's capital Tbilisi

“Georgia cannot be considered a safe country,” he said Gay times after learning of the British government's plans to consider the country a “safe” country for sending asylum seekers.

“They don’t know what’s going on in Georgia, how LGBT people live there, they can’t understand it. Because Georgia is now trying to join the EU, they are only showing the nice things, but that is not good. Gays are killed, transsexuals are killed.

“The last time Pride took place, The television operator was killed. Who will come after this and say that Georgia is a safe country? If you’re gay, you have two options: hospital or exorcism.”

“Both measures are cruel and unusual [and] unjustified”

Asylum statistics of the Home office show that from April 2022 to March 2023, 17 Indian nationals were granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK, while 14 people from Georgia were granted asylum in the country.

During the same period, 1,391 Georgians (as lead applicants) attempted to apply for asylum in the UK, while 4,403 from India attempted to apply for asylum.

Zoe Bantleman, legal director of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association (ILPA), a professional association of lawyers and academics practicing or engaged in immigration, asylum and nationality law, said: “Under these reprehensible regulations, Indian and Georgian refugees could be coerced will return to India and Georgia without their asylum applications and human rights claims even being considered and without our courts being able to prevent this violation of international law.

“The regulations would also introduce an unprecedented, almost blanket ban on considering applications of all Indian and Georgian nationals seeking to extend their stay or enter the UK on the basis of human rights. These include human rights claims based on family unity made by law-abiding Georgian or Indian nationals with families in the UK. Statistics from the Ministry of the Interior show that they are mostly justified.

“Both actions are cruel, unusual, unjustified and put the UK at risk of breaching its international legal obligations and further damaging its reputation as a champion of the rule of law and human rights.”

“A thorough assessment of India and Georgia has been carried out,” the Home Ministry says

A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said this Gay times that it must “discourage people from making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from essentially safe countries.”

“A thorough assessment of India and Georgia was carried out in deciding to include them in the list of safe countries,” they continued.

“Expanding the list will allow us to more quickly deport people who do not have the right to remain to their countries of origin, unless this would be unsafe in their particular circumstances. It’s a clear message: Anyone who comes here illegally is not allowed to stay.”

Rainbow Migration has created a tool This allows people to write to their local MPs and ask them to speak up during the upcoming debate and vote against passing the ordinance, which you can Access here.