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Project information

Legal advice service for LBGTI Asylum Seekers

LGBTI people in many countries are forced to live in secrecy and shame, or risk prosecution, torture, even death. A few make it to the UK and seek protection. Asylum Aid aims to provide high quality support, advice, and legal representation and campaign for a fairer and more effective asylum system.

July 2015 - July 2016

Charity information: Asylum Aid

Asylum Aid logo
  • Need


    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) asylum applicants often face public derision, a culture of disbelief, and poor decision-making by the Home Office. The great majority of cases are refused on grounds of “credibility,” meaning the caseworker and judges did not believe the person was a lesbian or gay man. The failure of the HO to reach fair, sustainable decisions has a disproportionate effect on LGBTI claimants, many of whom are left isolated and vulnerable.


    The overall aim of this project to ensure that LGBTI asylum seekers get the protection they need by providing free and accessible legal representation of the highest quality and by improving the quality of asylum decision making. The project focuses on three targets: the asylum system in the UK, legal representatives, and LGBTI asylum seekers themselves. We believe this triangulation can be most effective in progressing towards a fairer and more effective asylum system.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To provide high quality legal representation to LGBTI asylum seekers.


    » Legal advice service and casework

    What success will look like

    Provide free and accessible advice and legal representation to 100 LBGTI asylum seekers.

    Aim 2

    To influence the Home Office to improve the handling of LGBTI asylum claims.


    » Monitoring; Participating in consultations; Sharing lessons

    What success will look like

    Participate in stakeholders meetings and fora to influence government to make the cultural, policy, and procedural changes.

    Aim 3

    To influence the appeals system to improve the handling of LGBTI asylum claims.


    » Research and policy

    What success will look like

    Produce a research report to be then used to inform the specific policy and procedural changes proposed to the government.

    Aim 4

    To improve standards of legal representation through training and awareness raising.


    » Training; Sharing of Information via Refugee Legal Group

    What success will look like

    Organise two training activities with follow-up monitoring to 20 legal representatives.

    Aim 5

    To support LGBTI asylum seekers to advocate for their own rights individually and collectively.


    » Awareness raising and working with LGBTI groups

    What success will look like

    Organise visits and follow-up meetings with four LBGTI support and community groups.

  • Impact


    LGBTI asylum seekers, including those in detention, get the protection they need by being able to access legal representation of the highest quality and having an improved quality of asylum decision making. Success will be measured by monitoring the number of cases, the stages and resolution.


    Incomplete funding would mean we could not achieve all of the goals. In this case, priority will be given to providing legal representation to LGBTI asylum seekers directly, before focussing on research or policy work. Changes to UK Human Rights law could impact on how cases are conducted. In this case, we will ensure that policy work emphasises the human rights needs of LGBTI asylum seekers, and will ensure that training addresses any changes to practice.


    Donors to this project will receive a 6 months email report detailing the ongoing and forthcoming activities and any necessary changes that have been made to the plans.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £90,351

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      Amount Heading Description
      £64,313 salaries legal staff and management
      £26,038 activities office running costs, training
  • Background


    The base for our work is our office in Highbury & Islington where we receive legal referrals from agencies from all over the country. We also hold outreach legal surgeries in order to reach destitute asylum seekers in day centres run by the Red Cross, Notre Dame Centre for Refugees and Asylum Seekers and Haringey Migrant Support Centre.


    Of the 25k people who claim asylum in the UK each year, it is estimated 1k do so on the basis of their sexual or gender identity. In 2009, the Metropolitan Housing Trust estimated 1,200 -1,800 LGBTI people come to the UK as asylum seekers each year. These people flee persecution, torture, and even the death penalty simply for their sexual orientation.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The ongoing cuts to legal aid mean that most asylum law practitioners are obliged to operate within tight time and financial restrictions, often avoiding complex or time-consuming cases.
    We have developed highly successful, holistic, client centred services with an excellent success rate - over 80% - for securing protection for people in need. This has been possible thanks to our unique funding model that combines charitable donations with Legal Aid.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Ian Kane

    Legal Services Manager, he has over 17 years of experience representing asylum seekers.

    Sandi Kudhail

    Supervising Solicitor, with over 10 years of experience working as a solicitor-advocate specialising in victims of trafficking and domestic violence.

    Debora Singer MBE

    Policy & Research Manager, she has managed all our policy and research work since 2009. Awarded an MBE for her work on the rights of women in 2012.