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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

What's the connection between asylum/migration and LGBT people?

Left Outside has a great post (following one by Carl Packman) which dissects the age-old anti-migration arguments :
Our modern debate on migration has not developed out of a vacuum. In fact, we are forced to watch tedious reruns of discussions concerning Huguenots in the 1680s, Irish migrants in the early 19th Century and Eastern Europeans in the late, Jews in the 1930s and West Indians and South Asians in the 1960 and 70s.
He says that any anti-migration media piece will always contain one of the following: The Disloyal Immigrant; Soft Touch Britain™; Diseased and sex obsessed migrants; Criminal immigrants; Lump of Labour/Housing/Hospitals/Women Fallacy; or Swamped.

He uses these memes to play 'Immigrant Bingo'.

There's actually another thread of migration stories in papers like The Daily Hate (much more often in local newspapers) and that's pro ones.

Stories about someone in Shetland being defended by the locals, for example.

You don't see them very often but they do exist, these 'genuine asylum seekers' say these stories, and when talked about these cases usually elicit majority sympathy from, yes, even Daily Hate (etc) readers. I saw this with the 19yo gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi. Even in comments on The Sun's website most people wanted him granted asylum.

What strikes me, as someone who works to defend LGBT asylum seekers, is the parallels with attitudes to LGBT people.

It is well-established that once people have a LGBT person in the family, or have a LGBT friend or work colleague, they are far less likely to support anti-gay law and be prejudiced. I'd suggest this holds true for migrants and asylum seekers too, if you know one you are less likely to want them deported. If you don't know one migrants and asylum seekers are just numbers, a homogeneous mass.

This is why groups like Amnesty, UNHCR and the Refugee Council run campaigns which aim to put a human face on those who are defamed in the media on a daily basis. These, along with those occasional news stories, show that it is possible to get people to show some basic humanity.

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