Fifteen LGBTI Syrian refugees are launching a legal challenge against the UK after claiming they have been ‘abandoned to die’ in Turkey.
The Home Office agreed that all 15 would be on a refugee resettlement scheme, avoiding the need for them to go through a lengthy asylum process.
But despite this, two years after applying for the scheme, many are in hiding and terrified for their lives.
The group says due to homophobic attacks in Turkey, they have been forced to hide in ‘safehouses’.
Homosexuality is not a crime in Turkey. However, many LGBTI refugees report being attacked.
Syrian refugee: ‘I feel at any moment my family could find me and kill me.’
One gay man, speaking from a safe house in Istanbul, told The Guardian: ‘I can’t live in this country any more. I feel that at any moment my family could find me and kill me.
He added: ‘I’m gay but I can’t say I’m gay. You can’t even look at a man in the street here. It’s high-level dangerous.
‘One LGBTQ+ Syrian refugee I know has been waiting more than two years for the UK Home Office to bring him to safety. He has been stabbed twice because of his sexuality.’
A volunteer, also anonymous, said: ‘During my time here I have seen how dangerous life is for all LGBTQ Syrian refugees.
‘They are isolated individuals in a homophobic country. I have witnessed discrimination, harassment and physical violence against them.
‘One trans person I know was held hostage as a sex slave for several days until she managed to escape. In 2017 a member of this community was murdered and decapitated.’
Accusing UK of ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’
The refugees see others start their new lives in other countries’ resettlement schemes.
The group claim government officials are subjecting them to inhuman and degrading treatment and breaching human rights law.
There have been several murders of LGBTI people in Turkey.
Gay Syrian refugee Wisam Sankara was killed in July 2016. Just weeks later, Turkish trans woman Hande Kader was also murdered.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We do not routinely comment on individual cases.’
Home Office sources said it can take time to find suitable placements to meet the specific needs of individuals.