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Seeking asylum

Watch humanist Hamza bin Walayat describe the challenges of claiming asylum on non-religious grounds

Humanists UK support persons making asylum claims in the UK whose non-religious beliefs would put them at risk in their country of origin. They have supported Hamza bin Walayat’s claim since late 2017. Hamza has received death threats from members of his family and community in Pakistan because of his humanist beliefs and for his rejection of Islam (blasphemy is a crime that carries the death penalty in that country). He has a long-term British partner, and has made the UK his home since arriving in 2011.

Rachel Taggart-Ryan is Campaigns Officer at Humanists UK. She is responsible for providing support for asylum seekers who would face a significant risk of persecution because of their humanist beliefs if they were deported to their countries of origin. This involves providing expert country evidence to the Home Office and the Immigration Tribunals, and evidence that individual asylum seekers are non-religious. She also campaigns for better Home Office guidance on understanding non-religious worldviews, the persecution of the non-religious across the globe, and how to interview those who have left a religion.

Update: Hamza was finally granted asylum in May 2019, two years after initially applying, following a public campaign organised by Humanists UK.

Hamza commented on the Home Office’s reversal:

‘I am delighted that my application for asylum has finally been granted after years of living with uncertainty and constant stress. I have believed in humanist values since I was a child but as I grew up I realised how dangerous it was to share those views in a place like Pakistan.
‘I am extremely grateful for all the support I received from Humanists UK and their supporters who fought hard for me along with the work of my lawyers. I have also been amazed by the wider changes to asylum assessment that my case has brought about. I’m now looking forward to feeling more settled and getting on with my life.’
A home office spokesperson said:
‘We are committed to improving the quality and accuracy of decision-making to ensure we get decisions right the first time.
‘The Home Office is working closely with members of the APPG for International Freedom of Religion or Belief, as well representatives from a range of faith and belief groups, to provide specialist mandatory training. The aim of this is to ensure decision makers appropriately consider all the available evidence where religion or belief is raised in an asylum claim.’
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Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

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