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Elton John weighs in over gay asylum slur

5 October 20230 comments

Rock legend Elton John has spoken out against UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s calls to ban LGBTQ+ asylum seekers from coming to the UK.

Ms Braverman faced a backlash after her comment that “simply being gay, or a woman” is not enough of a reason to gain refugee status in the UK.

Addressing a US think tank, she said: “There are vast swathes of the world where it is extremely difficult to be gay, or to be a woman. Where individuals are being persecuted, it is right that we offer sanctuary”.

“But 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.”

Music icon Sir Elton responded by accusing her of “legitimising hate and violence”.

In a statement released alongside husband David Furnish through their AIDS Foundation, they said: “We are very concerned about the UK Home Secretary’s comments stating how discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be reason enough to qualify for protection under international refugee laws”.

“Nearly a third of all nations class LGBTQ+ people as criminals and homosexuality is still punishable by death in 11 countries.

“Dismissing the very real danger LGBTQ+ communities face risks further legitimising hate and violence against them,” he said.

The statement said that leaders ought to “provide more compassion, support and acceptance for those seeking a safer future”.

Sit Elton has shared statements via his foundation in the past to call out homophobia.

In 2021, he criticised rapper DaBaby for fuelling stigma around HIV.

He was joined by Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen in calling out Ms Braverman over her remarks about gay asylum seekers.

He said her remarks were “laced with a good dollop of prejudice” and part of a tilt at a Tory leadership bid.

And senior Conservative MPs warned the Ms Braverman’s claims would cost the party votes at the next general election, as the outcry intensified.

But, despite the barrage of criticism she doubled down, claiming there were “many instances” of asylum seekers pretending to be gay in order to “game the system”.

But activists challenged her to provide evidence after Home Office statistics showed sexual orientation formed part of the basis of just one per cent of all asylum claims in 2021.

Opposition politicians and campaigners also accused her of trying to distract from her government’s failings on migration.

Ms Braverman has also called on world leaders to make major changes to the UN Refugee Convention, arguing it had become too generous.