Posters in Calais provide basic asylum information - but the Daily Mail smells a rat
The Daily Mail today reports that posters in the makeshift camp in Calais, where migrants are forced to live, advise them to lie about their sexuality to be granted asylum. Or as the newspaper’s pithy headline puts it:
SAY THAT YOU ARE GET TO GET TO THE UK
Posters tell migrants they can lie about their sexuality to claim asylum
The evidence provided for this claim is a bit scanty. It’s asserted again in the intro and we are given snippets of a few words from the poster, though no quote long enough to demonstrate the story’s central claim. No picture of the poster is included.
In fact, what little is quoted sounds a lot like the UK government’s official advice for asylum applications.
The Mail says the poster tells people to ‘prepare their story well from the beginning’ and tailor it to the host government. It goes on:
“Migrants are told to choose a ‘category’ which proves that their life is in danger in their homeland. Reasons given include ‘race and religion’ and ‘being gay in some countries’.
In asylum interviews, they are urged to ‘try and remember’ all the details of ‘what happened’ and take written notes with them.”
This is the basic information required for asylum claims plus some sensible advice.
Of course you should select a category for your claim. People are only eligible for asylum on grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or member of a ‘particular social group’ at risk, including for their ‘sexual orientation’.
Why the Mail decides to zoom in just on homosexuality is a mystery.
The government’s website says people must ‘use the interview to explain 1. how you were persecuted in your country, 2. why you’re afraid to go back to your country’. It adds:
“You may be asked questions about difficult topics but it’s important that you explain what has happened to you and your family.”
As reported, it seems these posters are simply providing basic advice on asylum claims.
If the Mail was seriously concerned about the ‘chaos’ in Calais, they would surely support efforts to have claimants processed quickly.
Instead they imply migrant rights groups in Calais are trying to pull a fast one, painting homosexuality as a mere trick to con the taxpayer.
In fact, gay people are persecuted all over the world, face real dangers and have legitimate grounds to claim asylum.
If, as the Mail claims, the posters ‘suggest it might be worth stretching the truth’ (which is different from lying – it’s more than a stretch to say you’re gay when you are not), it might be because the UK puts the bar very high for asylum claims.
Whether a claim is legitimate or not in an individual case should be decided by the relevant authorities – providing claimants have all the information necessary to make an application.
But then a newspaper happy to mislead the British public can’t be expected to care about informing ‘foreigners’.
Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter
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