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by Debora Singer MBE and Cynthia Orchard
This briefing focuses on the gender aspects of An Inspection of asylum intake and casework undertaken by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) from April to August 2017 and published on 28th November, 2017.
We welcome the Chief Inspector’s consideration of how gender issues relating to women can affect all the stages of the asylum intake and casework process and its focus on identifying any evidence of gender bias. Including an analysis of relevant protected characteristics as detailed in the Equality Act 2010 is essential. For this reason, we are disappointed that there is no parallel focus on cases based on sexual or gender identity or expression (SOGIE). As indicated in our June 2017 submission to the Chief Inspector’s office, we consider that monitoring of the Home Office’s treatment of SOGIE claims is vital, in part due to concerns highlighted in a 2014 ICIBI report and, more recently, the June 2017 submissions by Asylum Aid and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group pointing to numerous concerns about the Home Office’s treatment of SOGIE asylum claims.
There is an ongoing need for monitoring of gender issues in asylum processes, in particular in relation to:
1) the need to ensure that women have access to a female interviewer and interpreter;
2) delays in cases of pregnant women;
3) the differential in appeals overturns for women (until recently); and
4) the broader gender issues relating to sexual or gender identity or expression.