It should be evident to a politician that socially salient characteristics like gender and sexuality have extensive impacts on people’s lived experiences. No one is claiming asylum simply because they are gay. They are claiming it because they have faced persecution for their sexuality in the country that they are fleeing. For example, in Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is punished by execution, flogging, or chemical castration. In Russia, there are no anti-discrimination or hate crime protections for gay people. Braverman’s statement is deliberately obtuse, putting the onus on the individual, constructing them as the issue, rather than the repressive, homophobic, or sexist societal structures that they may be escaping.
In 2022, only 2% of asylum seekers included sexual orientation as a reason for needing protection, so it is interesting that Braverman is putting such emphasis on this issue. I would argue that it is another example of an LGBT related issue being blown out of proportion to fearmonger within the (small c) conservative right and capitalise on their fears. It dually exploits conservative preconceptions of gay people exploiting their identity to get things, and of swathes of illegal migrants, who could feasibly be someone else’s problem, entering the UK for comparatively negligible reasons.
In the same speech, Braverman raised some important questions around the suitability of the 1951 Refugee Convention in the modern age, and whether it needs to be updated or adapted to mesh with current circumstances, but unfortunately, she muddied her own argument with her close-minded, reductive statements.
Braverman’s statements fit into the Tory party’s increasingly, chillingly right wing, discriminatory agenda, which targets and scapegoats racial, sexual, and gender minorities alike, and does not bode well for the future of living in this country, for any of us.