Seeking sanctuary: research into apostate asylum claims

 Registration is closed for this event
October 16th, 2023 19:00   --   20:00

We recognise that our service users, people who have left controlling religions, raised outside of the UK may have very different needs from those who were raised here. That is why we are planning some events that focus on the needs and issues of people who left their country of origin because leaving religion may have resulted in serious hardship and threats to their life and wellbeing.

We are excited to announce a new speaker event with Lucy Potter, who is currently conducting her PhD research into apostate asylum claims. Lucy will talk about her research and how even the Home Office still doesn’t really know enough about the issues apostates face when they leave their religion in countries where their life will be at risk if this is known. This event is for anyone to attend to find out about these issues and to hear about Lucy’s research. Lucy is also looking to speak with people who have experience with claiming asylum on the grounds of apostasy, but this talk is for anyone to attend who just has an interest.

In societies marked by the preference to conform to the religious beliefs and practices of the majority, the issue of apostasy — a decision to renounce one’s faith — remains deeply contentious. Apostates often face discrimination, marginalisation, and persecution in their countries of origin, which leads some people to seek sanctuary in the United Kingdom. This presentation, titled ‘Seeking Sanctuary: Research into Apostate Asylum Claims’, will highlight the urgency of studying how non-religious persecution and apostasy is a ground for asylum, the complexities surrounding the cases, and calls for refugees to take part in this research to share their experiences.

Currently, existing academic research overlooks the experiences of non-religious individuals in the asylum system. As people identifying as non-religious is increasing and conflict against these beliefs is growing, there is a need to study this group within its own right. This presentation underscores the importance of recognising apostasy as a basis for asylum and highlights the various legal, societal, and emotional aspects surrounding these claims. This presentation will outline the research project which is in partnership with Humanists UK discussing its: aims, objectives and research questions. It will then delve into some of the current knowledge about the non-religious and asylum determination in the UK. Through an exploration of the experiences and challenges apostates encounter, this research aims to shed light on the urgent need for research in this domain. I invite participants to join me in this vital research initiative, with the goal of advocating for the rights and safety of apostate refugees.

Lucy Potter is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield in the department of sociological studies. You can find more about Lucy on their website.