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Our work acting for asylum seekers in London, Hong Kong and New York

Access to justice has always been a key component of our pro bono practice. In the wake of legal aid cuts in the UK, we have focused on growing our local clinic and casework support for individuals. Our access to justice practice has a particular focus on assisting populations who are affected by other barriers to inclusion, including disability discrimination, racial discrimination, gender discrimination and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Helping vulnerable LGBT asylum applicants

One of our key access to justice projects in the UK is our LGBT Asylum Project, where we partner with the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) to assist highly vulnerable LGBT applicants to seek asylum in the UK. Since 2016, 83 Linklaters lawyers have dedicated over 4,000 hours to asylum applications and family reunification matters on behalf of UKLGIG’s clients.

"It is a huge privilege to be able to use your skills to make such a difference to another person's life when they are most in need."
- Associate, Dispute Resolution

Our work improving access to justice for vulnerable asylum seekers extends beyond our London office: in New York, we work with Kids In Need of Defense to represent unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United State. We also partner with Immigration Equality to prepare asylum applications for LGBT and HIV-positive refugees. In Hong Kong, we work with five different charities and NGOs, including Justice Centre Hong Kong, to provide advice and assistance to asylum seekers and migrant workers with their legal issues.

Since starting the UK project, we have successfully secured asylum for every applicant we have represented (against a 39% success rate as national average). Some of our clients’ stories are set out below (names are changed to protect the identities of our clients):

Sarah

Sarah was forced to flee her home country after an incident in a public marketplace where she and her partner were exposed as lesbians. Sarah narrowly escaped mob violence, but her partner was killed. On arrival in the UK, Sarah was connected to Linklaters by UKLGIG and we assisted her with her asylum application, eventually securing asylum for an initial five-year period.

The following year, Linklaters lodged an application for Sarah’s teenage daughter to relocate to the United Kingdom to be with her mother under family reunification laws. After a successful appeal, where we instructed Blackstone Chambers pro bono, Sarah was reunited with her daughter. They are living in London and Sarah’s daughter is attending school here.

"Today, I am the happiest person on the earth. Thank you so much."

- Sarah, UKLGIG client

James

James sought asylum in the UK after he was outed as gay in his home country and held at gunpoint. Our lawyers assisted James with his asylum application, which also involved drafting guidance on the treatment of asylum claims from James’ home country as there was no official guidance for the Home Office on the rapidly deteriorating socio-political situation there. James was granted asylum for five years.

As of 2019, James is living in London with his partner and working in urban design.