A refugee has given a stark warning: “Georgia cannot be considered a safe country.” It comes as the UK government tries to add the Eastern European country, as well as India, to the list of those considered safe to return people seeking asylum to.
There is a concern people wouldn’t have their asylum claims properly considered.
Ahead of a debate on changes to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 in the House of Commons on Wednesday (10 January) Noah, a gay man from Georgia who fled persecution, shared his thoughts on adding the country to the list.
“Georgia cannot be considered a safe country. [The UK government] don’t know what is going on in Georgia, how the LGBT people are living there, they cannot understand. Because Georgia is now trying to join the EU, they show only the beautiful things, but it’s not good. Gay people are killed. Trans people are killed.”
He also said: “The last time that Pride took place, the television operator was killed. Who will come and say Georgia is a safe country after that? If you’re gay your two options are either hospital or exorcism.”
As well as being attacked by his own family, Noah had to stay in a hospital for people with mental illnesses. He also had an exorcism performed upon him and neither he nor his partner were protected by police from attacks. Noah has also said he’d rather take his own life than return to Georgia.
“It’s utterly cruel”
Homosexuality is legal in Georgia although recent polls, as per EqualDex, indicate heavy opposition to the acceptance of homosexuality.
Noah is one of many people helped by the charity Rainbow Migration, which supports LGBTQ people through the asylum and immigration system. The charity has argued that the government is failing to consider LGBTQ people’s safety.
A Rainbow Migration spokesperson has slammed the government’s attempt to alter regulations. “Singling out people by nationality is dangerous. Everyone should have the right to seek safety here if they need it, no matter where they come from.” They then added: “It’s utterly cruel.”
The UK government’s own guidance on India and Georgia notes anti-LGBTQ attitudes as well as continued violence and discrimination. It’s also recognised that people from both countries need protection in the UK. Statistics show that between April 2022 and March 2023 17 Indians and 14 people from Georgia were granted asylum here.
A Home Office spokesperson told Attitude: “We must stop people making dangerous and illegal journeys to the UK from fundamentally safe countries. Countries on the safe list undertake regular and thorough assessments based on a wide range of sources.”