Suella Braverman’s speech: How it harms women and LGBTQ+ people

We strongly condemn Suella Braverman’s speech today. The Refugee Convention, which was signed in 1951 following World War 2, makes no explicit mention of women or people who are LGBTQ+, but rightly, over time, the particular forms of persecution they face have been recognised by case law. Before these forms of persecution were recognised, women in our network like Anu who experienced extreme violence, rape and female genital mutilation, would not have been given refugee status – which could have had life or death consequences for her. Under Suella Braverman’s vision of the asylum system, this would happen again.

Suella Braverman claimed today that ‘simply being gay or a woman and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection’. As she well knows, this claim is false. To be granted asylum in the UK, you must prove well-founded fear of persecution. Braverman is deliberately spreading misinformation to whip up racism, hatred and fear about people seeking safety in order to score cheap political points. It is clear that she doesn’t care who she harms in the process of doing this.

Her speech today is hypocritical. The Government have repeatedly stated its commitment to tackle violence against women and girls and support survivors of such. However, it seems this commitment doesn’t apply to women who are seeking asylum, who have experienced serious violence and trauma, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and rape.

Suella Braverman seeks to whip up hatred, division and fear. But we are better than this. We know that most people choose compassion and kindness. That we offer our hand to those in need of protection and welcome them into our communities. In the face of racism and hostility, we will continue to stand in solidarity with refugee and asylum-seeking women and support the women in our network to rebuild their lives in their UK.


Our Director, Alphonsine Kabagabo, says: 

Suella Braverman’s speech today is dangerous. The Refugee Convention has rightly evolved since it was signed in 1951 following World War 2, to recognise the persecution of women and LGBTQ+ people. This expansion, which has happened via case law, is a good thing. It means that women and LGBTQ+ people are granted protection on the basis of gendered persecution, or on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. Braverman’s attempt to minimise the persecution suffered by women and LGBTQ+ people could have life or death consequences.

The majority of women we support, including LGBTQ+ women, are survivors of persecution including gender-based abuse, sexual violence, rape and other torture. The Government may want to turn their backs on these women, but we never will. Instead of whipping up hate, fear and division, the Government should treat people seeking safety in the UK with compassion and kindness. How we treat people is who we are and Suella’s speech today sends a loud and clear message.