TORY Home Secretary Braverman came under fire for her rabid attack on refugees and asylum seekers yesterday, with charity ActionAid UK calling her comments ‘a direct affront to gender equality and human rights’.
Braverman told an audience at the right wing American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC on Tuesday afternoon that the UN Refugee Convention of 1951, which protects the right to asylum, should be scrapped.
She said that’we now live in a completely different time’ from when the convention was signed and claimed that under it 780 million people worldwide could dome to the UK to claim asylum.
She added: ‘We will not be able to sustain an asylum system if in effect, simply being gay, or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is sufficient to qualify for protection.’
She claimed: ‘Multiculturalism makes no demands of the incomer to integrate. It has failed because it allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it. And, in extreme cases, they could pursue lives aimed at undermining the stability and threatening the security of society.’
The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), condemned Braverman’s speech, saying that the 1951 Refugee Convention ‘remains as relevant today as when it was adopted in providing an indispensable framework for addressing those challenges, based on international co-operation’.
The UNHCR continued: ‘The need is not for reform, or more restrictive interpretation, but for stronger and more consistent application of the convention and its underlying principle of responsibility-sharing.’
It added: ‘Where individuals are at risk of persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it is crucial that they are able to seek safety and protection.’
Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Amnesty International UK, said: ‘The Refugee Convention is a cornerstone of the international legal system and we need to call out this assault on the convention for what it is: a display of cynicism and xenophobia.’
Rock star Elton John accused Braverman of ‘legitimising hate and violence’.
The Refugee Council chief policy analyst, Jon Featonby, said: ‘In our work with people in the asylum system, we have seen no evidence that Home Office decision-makers are lowering the threshold for asylum so that a well-founded fear of persecution is replaced with discrimination. The home secretary’s claims do not appear to be grounded in credible evidence.’
ActionAid UK said seeking asylum is the only lifeline left for the many women and girls it’s dealt with who are fleeing persecution.
The charity’s chief executive, Halima Begum, said: ‘Denying this fundamental right is not just a policy choice; it’s a direct affront to gender equality and human rights.’