Leeds Green Party

Proud to be campaigning on behalf of Leeds’ diverse communities – says Green Party leader ahead of Pride

1 August 2015

Natalie Bennett with No Going Back and members of Leeds Green Party

Above: Natalie Bennett with No Going Back and members of Leeds Green Party 

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett has praised community campaigns and projects across Leeds – particularly those standing up for the rights and interests of vulnerable people – on a visit to Leeds this week. Her visit comes a few days ahead of Pride, one of Leeds’ biggest events, at which Leeds Green Party will be supporting charity No Going Back to promote the rights of LGBTIQ* asylum seekers.

Bennett visited the Sunday School Tea Rooms, a cafe in Leeds which raises funds for No Going Back, and met the charity’s trustees, to find out about the charity’s work providing advice to LGBTIQ* asylum seekers and campaigning to prevent their forced return to countries where they face imprisonment or death. Leeds Green Party will be working with No Going Back to raise awareness about this issue at Leeds Pride on 2 August, by taking part in the march and holding a stall on Lower Briggate.

Bennett’s visit also took in:

  • the Elinor Lupton Centre in Headingley, where Leeds Greens are campaigning against the conversion of an iconic building into a 1000-capacity late-licence pub, with serious consequences for the local community. Greens want to see the building brought back into use as a community space;
  • Holbeck viaduct, an unused Victorian rail route where local activists are campaigning to provide new public green space and a walking and cycling route;
  • Chapeltown’s Latch, a charitable organisation that refurbishes run-down homes in an area where Leeds Greens are campaigning for more affordable housing on brownfield sites.

Natalie Bennett with campaigners for the Holbeck Viaduct project

Above: Natalie Bennett with campaigners for the Holbeck Viaduct project

Bennett was joined by Green candidates who stood in the May local and general elections, who across the city achieved a hugely increased vote-share.

Natalie Bennett commented: “No Going Back is a fantastic charity that's fighting for a highly vulnerable group of people, many of whom face the prospect of torture or death if they aren’t granted asylum. I’m really pleased to hear that Leeds Green Party is backing this cause at Leeds Pride and beyond. The Pride event on Sunday is a great opportunity for the city to celebrate diversity and equal rights.”

Natalie added: “It’s been inspiring to visit such a fantastic range of community projects and charities across Leeds, and find out how Leeds Green Party is standing up for the interests of the city's diverse communities. As a party we believe firmly in equality and human rights, and in supporting the most vulnerable in society. Leeds Greens will continue to campaign year round on that basis, and I would urge anyone who shares our values in the city to get involved in their work and support the many community groups and charities helping people across Leeds.”

Stephen Lloyd, Leeds Green Party Pride coordinator said: “We’re thrilled to be involved in Leeds Pride this year, and it was great to share our plans and discuss LGBTIQ* asylum seekers’ rights with Natalie Bennett ahead of the event. Pride provides a great opportunity to be thankful for how far LGBTIQ* rights have come but there is still much work to be done, and Leeds Green Party is 100% behind this. LGBTIQ* people still face discrimination and injustice at home and abroad, and this is something we must always fight. We’re proud to be backing the charity No Going Back this year, to highlight the difficulties faced by LGBTIQ* asylum seekers.”

Natalie Bennett with campaigner Mags Shevlin and the team at Latch in Chapeltown

Above: Natalie Bennett with campaigner Mags Shevlin and the team at Latch in Chapeltown

Facts about LGBTIQ* asylum seekers

Homosexual acts are still illegal in over 70 countries, and punishable by death in five. Many people living in these countries seek asylum in the UK. Some fear persecution, others have already experienced it.

In 2010, a Stonewall report found that LGBTIQ* asylum seekers are often not believed, held in homophobic detention centres, and sent back to countries where they are in real danger. Applicants are expected to be able to prove their sexual orientation, and a lack of training by officials leads to an inconsistent and inappropriate approach, often focusing on extremely personal questions about the applicant’s sexual history.

Applicants can, and have been, refused asylum because they don’t go to gay bars, because they’re behaviour and interests aren’t deemed ‘gay’ or because they have had heterosexual relationships in the past. There is also a lack of recognition that homosexuality doesn’t need to be illegal in a country for it to be an unsafe place for LGBTIQ* people.

Between 2005 and 2009, a staggering 98% of LGBTIQ* asylum seekers were refused at the initial stage, compared with 76.5% of all asylum seekers. The Home Office has never released any data on the proportion of refused LGBTIQ* asylum seekers who are harmed or killed on their return.

The Green Party would:

  • End the detention of asylum seekers
  • Provide training for officials on gender and sexuality-related persecution
  • Improve claimants’ access to legal advice
  • End the ‘culture of disbelief’ in the Home Office, where asylum claimants are assumed to be lying unless they can prove otherwise
  • Reduce the need for LGBTIQ* asylum by working with international partners to end discrimination worldwide

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