The LGBT fallout of UK Immigration

Vincent and I in New York

Vincent (left) and I, together in New York

It’s been six years exactly since I first received a message on my MySpace account from my now soon to be husband. One year later, after many many Skype conversations, we met in Barcelona, Spain. Vincent turned out to be everything I expected, and more. For the first time I felt like I met someone who was not only a perfect partner, but best friend. Every time I think back to the first time I met him in person it sends butterflies straight to my stomach. Needless to say, we decided that we would make a real go of the relationship, promising that one of us would move over after we both graduated from University.

As with many bi-national couples who have decided to move closer together, we decided that the easiest way to make the leap was by getting married. The UK, being a step further along LGBT equality path seemed like the most obvious choice. This is because although the USA has some equal marriage laws at the state level, it is not recognised on a federal level and therefore immigration is not possible. Everything seemed rosy, that is, until the UK government changed a law which makes it almost impossible for bi-national couples to come together.

The new law states that for a spouse to come to Britain the sponsor must be earning over £18,600. Triple the amount of the previous law which only required £5,500 a year excluding housing costs. The reason? A government consultation decided that £18,600 was the minimum someone needs to earn for a two-person household to avoid being a “burden on the state.”

According to the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (2011) 40% of the UK population would not be able to sponsor their spouses under the new law if they had to. That’s twenty five million people. Not to mention that if you start looking at the average wages of particular parts of the UK, or particular groups of people like women and under 30s, that number goes even higher.

Initially my efforts to understand the law were directed at the many arbitrary decisions that were made on the part of the consultation. For example, four out of the five expert bodies that were consulted strongly argued for the law not to be changed, or that many countries have much more practical and sensitive laws regarding family immigration (Australia for example). Instead, my focus should have been on the question. Rather than “What income needed to support the family without them becoming a burden on the State,” it should be, “How effective is the current maintenance threshold for family immigration and what possible alternatives are there?”

By not asking the right question, the most important issues were left completely neglected. For example, the UK is only one of twenty nine countries which recognise same sex couples right to a family life. This means that many of the members of the European Convention of Human Rights are in breach of Article 8 (right to family life). Whether or not the new UK legislation also breaks that article are yet to be seen.

LGBT couples across the globe are suffering daily in their fight for equality and right to recognition of their relationships. It is ridiculous that the UK and America are still lagging behind on these issues and that laws can be passed with such disregard to the limited options couples like my fiancé and I have. Citizens within the European Union have freedom to move without such red tape and as two recent graduates with a lot to offer it makes no sense that we would be penalised yet again because we happen to be gay.

Love sees no borders and should never have to!


If you are affected by immigration equality then please stay up to date with the many charities that exist, as well as signing the UK Petition:

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/34835 (UK Petition)

Organisations:

http://www.immigrationequality.org/ (USA)

http://www.afer.org/ (USA)

http://www.legit.ca/ (Canada)

Groups:

https://www.facebook.com/UniteFamiliesFightForLove (UK)

https://www.facebook.com/BiNationalCouples (USA)

 

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11 thoughts on “The LGBT fallout of UK Immigration

  1. DazzaY says:

    Absolutely amazing and heartfelt post. We need to hear more stories like this. I really hope that it works out for you both, I know I couldn’t be away from my other half and it would probably destroy us if we weren’t able to be with each other.

    Good luck.

  2. TMorris says:

    Hi there – Do yo know of any organizations in Canada I could contact for help? Here is my family’s story “http://familyimmigrationalliance.wordpress.com/2012/08/17/tonis-story/”.

    I am Canadian and my husband is British, ,our family life is “bing held hostage for 24,800” by these new immigration rules. Thank you and good luck

  3. Roxxroxx says:

    Hi, we are bi-racial lesbians in Bangkok. We were (are?) planning to move to the UK in 2014 to raise our coming family in a country that has enshrined our relationship and allows my partner to be our children’s mother from their birth. We very much hope that it may still be possible, but know if it is we will be some of the lucky ones.
    I am revolted by the changes the government have made. These approaches to curbing immigration turn human beings into numbers and takes no account whatsoever of their individual circumstances, qualities or potential. It can be described only as an unashamed attempt to keep (foreign) people with blatant disregard for the high personal costs.
    I hope for all our sakes that something can be done to change this.

  4. Roxxroxx says:

    Reblogged this on Double Trouble Bangkok and commented:
    Some others in the same situation as us. 😦

  5. Bex says:

    I’m in the exact same situation as you guys – brickwalled between the new UK family immigration rules and DOMA. I have no idea what to do. ;-(

    • solucas says:

      Hi Bex, I’m really sorry you’re in this position too. My fiance and I managed to find out that he can gain citizenship through his great-grandfather as he was born in Italy. It’s going to take another year, but it’s a gateway. I don’t suppose you might be lucky and you or your partner have EU ancestry?

      Otherwise try not to be too glum, lots of influencial people in the US have predicted DOMA to be taken to the supreme court this session, could be a year or could be next month. Nevertheless I’m hopeful it will be overturned within the next year.

      The UK doesn’t seem to have gained a lot of press in terms of the new laws, however I know that some people that are campaigning against the law are going to go to court after their applications are rejected. Hopefully it will result in a reppeal.

      Stay strong and hope something works out for you both x

      • Bex says:

        I do have recent EU ancestry – UK actually, via my great-grandmother. Unfortunately, UK only gives ancestry visas to Commonwealth citizens whose grandparent was born in UK. My partner has Irish dual nationality, but UK has recently changed its definition of an EEA national as a person who does not also have UK nationality. Beyond that, upping and moving to another European country is not financially feasible.

        I know that a lot of people are predicting that DOMA will be overturned soon, but if Mitt Romney gets elected this year (God help us all), that could be a real game changer. I’m sure he will do everything in his power to keep DOMA in place.

        Hopefully, the people willing to be test cases to go to court against the new rules will have some success. My partner and I considered doing that, but we don’t have the financial resources to do so.

        We’ve just been taking it one day at a time. That’s all we can do.

  6. steve says:

    What a great piece! And thanks for the link. Would you be interested in sending your story in so we can add it to the pack we are building up on the issue? Steve https://www.facebook.com/UniteFamiliesFightForLove

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