If you are familiar with UK politics, you will have probably come across the name Suella Braverman in the last few weeks. Braverman is the British Home Secretary and is currently spearheading Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s ‘Stop the Boats’ strategy. It describes a bill aimed at ending illegal entries and cracking down on migration at large.
Braverman is a political powerhouse, in the worst possible way, that has come under fire for waging a war against women, migrants and the LGBTQIA+ community. Confused? Well, that’s completely understandable. Let me break it down for you.
Braverman is scheduled to give a speech today, Tuesday 26 September 2023, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
In her speech, the Home Secretary is expected to argue that the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, a treaty that defines who a refugee is and what their rights are, is not “fit for our modern age.” Instead, the Braverman will argue for a more narrow definition of the term ‘refugee’.
This includes, as you might have guessed by now, increased restrictions against women and LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers. As the politician sees it, “simply being gay or a woman and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin is not sufficient to qualify for protection.”
Braverman’s statements have understandably spurred quite the uproar online, with many netizens openly condemning the politician’s views as “shameful” and “xenophobic.”
The fact that female refugees are at greater risk of gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation is well-known and widely documented. And that being gay is criminalised in 66 countries and can lead to the death penalty in 12, can quickly be uncovered with one Google search. Thus, to say that her claims are unfounded would be an understatement.
Furthermore, this attack on the LGBTQIA+ community by the Home Secretary is also not an isolated instance. On 19 September, Braverman called out police officers who worked at Pride events, arguing that they are not paid to “wave flags” or “dance with drag queens.” She also critiqued an “unacceptable rise” in the police positioning themselves on major issues, like the Black Lives Matter movement, or displaying the Pride flag.
These comments did not appear in a vacuum. Instead, they are the result of a racist, misogynistic, and homophobic climate that breeds within the country’s Conservative Party.
On 26 April, Rishi Sunak made headlines for refusing to apologise for the UK’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. He also rejected a request for reparations.
Subsequent to these remarks, a wave of online outrage was directed against the conservative politician and his party. Their failure to issue a formal apology for the brutality, exploitation and corruption that were involved in the slave trade in “our modern age” is shocking. Just like denying women’s and queer people’s right to asylum in the face of violence and death. But with the Conservative party, this is starting to become unsurprising.
Braverman is not just “stopping the boats” but also continuing a troubling trend of regressive policies and rhetoric within her party.