S Chevlan of No5 Chambers establishes guidelines for officials questioning LGBTI

S Chelvan of No5 Chambers has established some guidelines named ‘DSSH — Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm’, which are designed to ensure immigration officials ask the right questions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

As with all LGBTI asylum cases, the biggest issue that asylum seekers face is proving their sexual or gender identity to the authorities. Recently leaked documents have shown that some questions being asked by officials are inappropriate and degrading, focusing on sexual conduct.

Chelvan, a barrister specialising in LGBTI asylum cases, said: ‘In 99 per cent of asylum cases, harm is not in the bedroom — it’s outside the home by the mob or the state. It’s because they don’t conform to a specific stereotype of heteronormativity — or how a straight person “should” be. That’s what identifies them and makes them a target for the persecutor.

‘Difference, stigma and shame can be found in the majority of LGBTI the world over; it is harm that makes an LGBTI a refugee.’

Chelvan is currently in discussions regarding the DSSH model with the Home Office. He will additionally be providing training on the model at an ESOL conference at the University of Leeds on 29 March 2014 and in Malta on 15 May 2014.