Pakistani gay asylum seeker sells kidney to move to Scotland, wins legal battle to remain in the UK

A Pakistani gay asylum seeker has won a legal battle to overturn Scotland’s decision to deport him, reports Pink News. The person identifies only as “AR” and claims to have sold a kidney to pay for his flight to the UK in 2004, after he was arrested for allegedly having gay sex the previous year. Initially, he moved to Glasgow on a one-year working visa, but later claimed asylum in 2007.

According to LGBTQ Nation, the courts determined that he sought safe haven in the UK “on the ground that he was homosexual and that he would face a real risk of persecution in Pakistan were he to be returned.” 

Scotland’s Home Office decided to deport him from the UK in 2019. The same year, tribunal judges ruled against the man, siding with the Home Office. The case was then brought to the Upper Tribunal , which is responsible for handling appeals for asylum and immigration applications – but they refused to hear an appeal against the decision. The man’s legal team took the case to the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.

In an opinion dated 27 January, Lord Doherty, a judge in the Supreme Courts of Scotland, said the Upper Tribunal should “consider afresh the application”. Doherty wrote: “The Upper Tribunal’s decision should be reduced. It will then be for the Upper Tribunal to consider afresh the application for permission.”

Life imprisonment or 100 lashes are the possible penalties for gay sex in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Penal Code 1860 criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”, which applies to men having sex with men. A hangover from British colonialism (Pakistan inherited the code from India after Partition), it holds a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Gay sex is also criminalised under a law that bans sex outside of marriage, which includes all same-sex intercourse in Pakistan. The penalty under this law is death by stoning for married people or 100 lashes for unmarried people.

In 2020, one gay asylum seeker who came to the UK as a teenager was ordered by a court to return to Algeria, where he has been threatened with death by his homophobic family. In 2019, the Home Office was accused of having “falsely imprisoned” queer asylum seekers between 2014 and 2017. The Supreme Court ruled that they were viable for compensation for the “trauma”.

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