Natasha and Emma came to lunch to talk about their work at the Medical Foundation, and particularly Natasha's project on Rule 35 - the Rule that provides that if an asylum applicant makes a claim the s(he) has been tortured that is mot manifestly unfounded, s(he) must not be detained.
At Questions I chipped in with a supplementary on David Chidgey's question on Yemen
Then to the Moses Room, where I spoke in a debate on the immigration fees regulation.
In the evening, to the Frontline Club for a showing of a film about the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda, and the problems they have in getting asylum. I need to write to Damian Green again about asylum policy on sexual orientation. He says 'it is not necessary to exclude gay men and women from a designation to ensure they receive protection.... If any asylum claim, from a gay man, a lesbian, or anyone else, is not clearly unfounded, it will not be certified'. On that basis, it wouldn't be necessary to preserve the appeal rights of women in countries that are otherwise designated as 'safe'. But since applications by LGBT asylum seekers are wrongly refused in countries that are not designated, as proved by the success of some appeals, mistakes are certain to be made in rejecting LGBT applications from designated countries, where the applicant is denied the right of appeal.
In the Nationality, Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 it is provided that states to be named by the Secretary of State are safe enough in general to justify denying failed asylum applicants in general a right of appeal against refusal of their claim. But the Secretary of State also has power to restore the right of appeal to particular categories of people identified by gender, language, race, religion, nationality, membership of a social or other group, political opinion, or any other attribute or circumstance the Secretary of State thinks appropriate. This power has only been used in respect of women from Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali and Sierra Leone; these states are designated as safe for men. Clearly, the same argument could have been used as with sexual orientation, ie that it was not necessary to exclude women from a designation to ensure they receive protection, and that if any asylum claim from a woman was not clearly unfounded, it wouldn't be certified.
PS This was the 550th anniversary of the battle of Towton, in which it was estimated that 28,000 people were killed. I wore a black tie.