Scottish campaigners have condemned Suella Braverman after the Home Secretary proposed a reframing of the international asylum system and said current laws are “not fit for our modern age”.

In a speech to an American think tank, that was widely trailed in the media ahead of her appearance in Washington, Ms Braverman said that the existing system “incentivises” migration, arguing that multiculturalism has “failed”.

The home secretary announced that she would row back on current international law, and claimed that being gay or a woman is not reason enough to be granted asylum, which has prompted backlash from campaigners north of the border.

Anyone fearing discrimination for being gay or a woman qualifies for international refugee protection, according to the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention. Ms Braverman argues that the current rules help those fearing bias rather than just those fleeing persecution.

However, some campaigners say that waiting until a person is being persecuted before offering them asylum could cost thousands of lives.

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Selina Hales, founder and director of Glasgow charity Refuweegee, said: “The important thing, for me, in this statement from Ms Braverman is that she states where individuals are ‘being persecute’ it is right that that we offer sanctuary. This is an attempt to change what is currently says, which is the ‘fear of being persecuted.’

“Fear of persecution is enough for you to seek sanctuary elsewhere. If we change the threshold to people being actively persecuted, we’re basically sending hundreds and thousands of women and LGBT people to their deaths.

“If you have to evidence that persecution, you have to wait until your hurt or killed in order for the right to seek sanctuary. It is completely abhorrent that she should be attempting to change what we consider correct when seeking refuge in another country.”

The home secretary’s comments have sparked controversy both domestically and internationally. She has already grappled with the UN refugee agency on the government’s plans to send people who enter the UK illegally to Rwanda, with the Supreme Court set to hear whether those proposals are lawful in a matter of weeks.

Ms Hales added: “I’m horrified by it, as ever. Every time Suella Braverman opens her mouth, I’m horrified.

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“I want to be clear that we work with many people who have fled their country because they are gay or can’t live there the way that they would like because they’re a woman.

“I have worked with multiple people who, while they were fleeing were hunted by their family for bringing supposed dishonour on their family name. Had they been caught, had they not been able to seek sanctuary in this country, they would have been killed.”

Ms Braverman pointed to research from the Margaret Thatcher-founded think tank, the Centre for Policy Studies, which found that the current laws grant for the right for asylum to more than 780 million people worldwide.

These figures include anyone who faces “well-founded fear” of persecution of a racial, national, religious, social or political nature. For example, the entire non-Taliban population of Afghanistan would flag up in this study.

The UN in 2022 stated that the number of registered refugees worldwide was 35 million.

Female and LGBT refugees arriving in Scotland from countries where these groups face persecution are protected under the UN 1951 Refugee Convention.

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Coming into effect in the aftermath of World War Two, when millions were displaced across Europe, the Convention is viewed as a pillar of the international asylum system. It provides a definition of a refugee, also stating that a refugee should not have to return to their home country against their will if their life or freedom is at risk.

As immigration is a reserved matter for Westminster, those seeking asylum in Scotland would be affected if there were to be any changes to the UK’s commitment to the 150-country strong Convention.

The Scottish Refugee Council said: “Standing up for our shared humanity is more important than ever. We are horrified that the UK government is suggesting that these historic protections are dismantled, and our humanitarian obligations denied.

“Seeking asylum is a human right and one that must be upheld, no matter how a person fled their country or their circumstances. It is the broken asylum system in the UK that needs reform, not the UN Refugee Convention.”

According to Home Office statistics, there were 1334 asylum claims that included sexual orientation in 2022, accounting to 2% of all 74,7521 claims.

Rainbow Migration, a UK charity which supports asylum seekers facing persecution for their sexuality through the immigration system: “We are appalled to hear that the Home Secretary is questioning the legitimacy of LGBTQI+ people claiming asylum in the UK.

“Many LGBTQ+ people that we support every day tell us how they faced life-threatening situations back home.”

“Most of us welcome refugees and want to help people who are fleeing for their lives. The Home Secretary Suella Braverman should stop her cruel rhetoric and instead create an asylum system that treats people with dignity and compassion.”