In this important human rights case, our client, a male Pakistani national, came to us highly concerned about his right to live without persecution. He had entered the UK legally with his male partner, also from Pakistan, as students. After living in the UK for two years he required our legal assistance, due to pressure from his family to return to live in Pakistan, in order to marry his cousin. Faced with the threat of an unwanted marriage and humiliation from his family on account of his homosexuality, he required our help to remain in the UK.
Building a claim for refugee status
We advised our client that due to homosexuality being illegal in Pakistan, returning would mean that he would be in considerable risk of experiencing persecution by both state and non state agents, or instead, faced with the prospect of not being able to live openly as a homosexual man.
To prevent this, we engaged the 1951 Refugee Convention. Article One of this United Nations treaty, as amended by the 1967 Protocol, defines a refugee as a person with a well-founded fear of being persecuted by the country of his or her nationality, and are therefore unwilling or unable to return to it.
A particular reason accepted regarding this fear of persecution is being a member of a particular social group, which in the case of our client, was homosexuals. Having ratified the convention, the UK is obliged to protect refugees within its territory, in accordance with the terms of the convention.
Based on this argument, we attended an eight hour interview over two days with our client and the Home Office, in which our client sought asylum so he could remain in the UK. The original decision by the Home Office was to refuse our client’s claim.
The outcome of the case
We appealed the decision successfully, and our client was granted refugee status to remain in the UK, where he could live openly as a homosexual without the risk of state persecution.