London: Four LGBT Syrian refugees, who have just arrived, can now openly express their sexual identity in the Pride celebrations in central London on Saturday.
The Guardian reported that they arrived in London on Thursday after waiting for more than two years to be airlifted to safety. Others in the group were expected to follow soon.
They were accepted under the refugee resettlement scheme, avoiding the need for them to go through the lengthy asylum process. However, instead of being fast-tracked to the UK, they were made to wait in Turkey.
The Hammersmith and Fulham council in west London volunteered to provide housing and support for all 15 after The Guardian published an article in April after which the process to fly them from Turkey began.
Same-sex relationships are legal but homophobic attitude still exists in their society. Some refugees have reported being pelted by rocks, followed in the street and attacked if people suspected they were not heterosexual. Few also received death threats.
In some cases, the refugees were not safe even in the hands of their families who did not know about their sexual identity.
Toufique Hossain and Sheroy Zaq, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, who 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.”
Steve Cowan, the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, told The Guardian, “No one anywhere should ever face death threats because of their sexuality. I’m so happy that we have been able to provide safe refuge for these young people and that tomorrow they will proudly march with Pride for the first time in their lives.”
The group has filed legal action against the Home Office for abandoning them to a life of danger in Turkey....