Amendment 22

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords am 8:15 pm ar 4 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Cashman Lord Cashman Non-affiliated 8:15, 4 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. Before I refer to the amendments in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, I mention Amendment 25, in the names of my noble friend Lord Dubs and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester. Sadly, my noble friend cannot be in his place, but I raised this issue in another amendment in Committee. Our concern is about freedom of religion or beliefs and the effect that Rwandan legislation could have on such beliefs, particularly minority religious beliefs, and the conflict that could arise with the Rwandan blasphemy law. The right reverend Prelate might say more.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, has made a powerful case for the amendments in his name and for others within this group. I have added my name to his amendments. From Second Reading onwards, we have repeatedly made the case for these amendments. I will not return to the same arguments, pertinent and important though they are.

The Government insist that belonging to this particular social group—LGBT—would pose no threat in Rwanda because there is no discrimination in law. However, there are no clear protections against discrimination or persecution within law. I refer your Lordships to the comments that I read into the record from activists in Rwanda, who detailed their direct experiences of societal discrimination, which directly affects them and their quality of life.

To put it in context, following the genocide, the abiding principle followed by the Rwandan Government is that of countering what is known as divisionism, ensuring that groups do not arise and are not pitted one against the other. The genocide informs their approach to governance, and that, in effect, means conformity. If you do not conform, it can be and regularly is represented as creating divisionism that would have further consequences and is punishable by law.