As of December 2021, the Bill is in its second reading in the House of Lords. An extension of ‘Hostile Environment’ policies, it would dramatically restrict access to asylum in the UK, criminalise asylum seekers, remove safeguards for children and victims of human trafficking, and introduce the option of sending refugees to other countries. Serious concerns have been raised by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC), and others.
While many media outlets have focused on new powers to revoke UK citizenship from those born elsewhere, the EHRC outlines some key intersectional issues:
“Those with certain protected characteristics may be disproportionately impacted by these proposals, including as a result of barriers to early engagement with the authorities. For example, women arriving in the UK through irregular routes, including by being smuggled or trafficked across borders, may be fleeing gender-based violence and may need more time to seek appropriate support before they are able to engage with authorities. LGBT+ people may face challenges in sharing their identity and therefore take more time to prepare and disclose information to officials. Similarly those with mental health conditions related to experiences of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment may not present themselves immediately due to the impact of trauma. Minor children separated from parents may be disproportionately affected by restrictions on family reunion rights.
“Particular attention will be required around asylum-seekers who may not originate from a region of conflict, but may be subject to persecution on the basis of their protected characteristics – such as LGBT+ people, or women who have experienced gender-based violence – and have reached the UK by unofficial routes. Such groups may be smaller in number than others in the migrant population, but will in many cases be most disadvantaged while having the least support available to them under the new proposals. Due regard must be given to those impacts, and proportionate mitigations put in place.
“All those recognised as refugees in the UK, whether granted temporary or secure status, have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. The ability of those afforded temporary protection status to integrate into society and make a positive contribution to their communities may be affected by the limited and insecure nature of their leave.”
2021: EHRC. Link.
2021: SRC. Link.