Four LGBTQ+ refugees from Syria have reportedly arrived in Britain just in time for Pride in London – after being stranded in Turkey earlier this year.
The four Syrians – part of a 15-strong group of refugees – landed in London on Thursday (July 4) after a lengthy wait, reports the Guardian.
According to the national newspaper, Hammersmith and Fulham Council offered to provide accommodation and help fly them over to the UK in response to an article it published in April. The rest of the group are reportedly expected to arrive in the UK in due course.
The Home Office had accepted all fifteen refugees on a resettlement scheme for refugees, meaning that they did not have to go through the asylum application process, but had not yet made steps to bring the group over.
The group had launched legal action – represented by Duncan Lewis Solicitors – against the Home Office over their plight, with their lawyers arguing that government officials had breached human rights laws.
Refugees In “State Of Joy” After Arriving In UK
The Home Office in London. Image credit: Steve Cadman/Flickr
Same-sex sexual relations are legal in Turkey, but concerns were raised over the safety of this group of refugees earlier in the year because of homophobic public attitudes in the country. Some of the fifteen had reportedly waited for more than two years to get on the resettlement scheme.
A number of the refugees reported having rocks thrown at them or said that they were questioned by those who suspected that they were not heterosexual, according to the Guardian.
The newspaper reports that the four refugees are “said to be in a state of joy at their new circumstances.”
LGBTQ+ Syrian Refugees At Risk In Turkey
Image credit: Lee Morgan/Flickr
A number of the Syrian refugees had to hide their sexuality or gender identity in Turkey over safety concerns, and some are still not out to family members.
The detriment they suffered as a result of their sexuality in Turkey simply could not go on any longer; we had to ensure that their resettlement was expedited through legal channels.
– Toufique Hossain and Sheroy Zaq, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors
Toufique Hossain and Sheroy Zaq, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, which launched the legal action, told the Guardian: “These men have been forced to conceal an enormous part of their identity, not just in their country of origin but also in Turkey.
“The detriment they suffered as a result of their sexuality in Turkey simply could not go on any longer; we had to ensure that their resettlement was expedited through legal channels.
“We are elated that they will at last be able to be open about their sexuality in all walks of life, just in time for Pride.”
The news comes after the Independent recently reported a landmark High Court ruling, which ordered the Home Office to facilitate the return of a Ugandan lesbian asylum seeker from her home country after she was deported under the government’s now-defunct “detained fast-track” system in 2013.