Bisexual Asylum Seekers

Please do adapt this letter and send it on to your local MPs.

16 May 2015

Dear Mrs May,

Bisexual asylum seekers

As Trustees and members of Bi UK, a charity that supports research and activism regarding bisexuality, we were extremely concerned to hear of the case of Orashia Edwards.  It seems that this individual has been informed by immigration officials that he ought to pretend to be gay, and that he cannot apply for asylum as a bisexual. Orashia is at risk of persecution as a man who has same-sex relations, and it appears that this risk is not being taken seriously.

Since we became aware of this case, other bisexual asylum seekers have confirmed that they have been advised by Home Office officials as well as LGBT group advisers, to conceal the fact that they are bisexual and to pretend to be gay or lesbian, in order to have a chance of gaining asylum. At BiCon (the annual bisexual conference) in 2014, concern and outrage was expressed by 300 delegates at the AGM about the ways in which bisexual people are being discriminated against in the asylum process. Bisexual people who are fleeing persecution are not at any less risk than gays and lesbians.

We request that you confirm the following:

a) That there is no policy to exclude bisexuals from asylum on grounds of sexuality

b) That the government recognises that bisexuals can be just as subject to homophobia and persecution as homosexuals are, regardless of whether they have (or have not) engaged in heterosexual relationships in the past

c) That Home Office officials and others dealing with asylum seekers will be advised that bisexual people should have their sexuality treated with due respect, not assumed to be ‘really’ heterosexual, homosexual or lying about their sexuality

d) That bisexual asylum seekers should have their claims for asylum considered as carefully as for other asylum seekers.

We would also like to know what training officials dealing with asylum claims have had on LGBT issues that may be relevant, and how many bisexuals have applied for asylum since 2010.

We look forward to hearing from you about how you will ensure that bisexuals are receiving appropriate protection under the UK’s asylum system.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Surya Monro

and Dr Meg John Barker, Christina Richardson, Dr Caroline Walters, Dr Roshan Nair, Ed Lord, Dr

Helen Bowes-Catton, Dr Rebecca Jones, Kaye McLelland

Queer prezi

There’s a prezi presentations from Meg here on what queer means and why it might be useful for practitioners and others to engage with it. It covers queer as an insult, a reclaimed word, a form of politics and a kind of theory.

Reasons we might usefully engage with queer include the way it opens up LGBT to various sexualities, genders, relationships and practices which are outside heteronormativity but don’t fit within LGBT, and the challenges it presents to binaries of gender and sexuality (man/woman, gay/straight). However, the associations that some may have with queer (due to their generation or culture, for example) as well as the potential it has to erase bisexuality, mean that it is worth being careful in the ways in which we employ queer.

Shit bisexuals say

A new entry into the ‘shit people say…’ meme which is going around at the moment. We like the vids where people highlight the problematic assumptions that others make about a certain group, but it’s also good to see people poking fun at their own groups in this way. Of course it’s helpful too in raising awareness of the kinds of assumptions that are out there that lead to people having to say this kind of thing.