We partner in new play looking at experience of LGBT asylum seekers

  • UK premiere at The Tron Theatre, Glasgow
  • Wednesday 7th – Saturday 10th September, 8pm
  • After-show panel discussion on Thursday 8th September 

Around the world the topic of homosexuality remains controversial and divisive. For many, the unrelenting persecution leads them to seek refuge far from home. But too often their struggle has only just begun… 

In a first for a Scottish production company, cross-artform group conFAB brings together testimonies of gay male asylum seekers and refugees to create a story of unimaginable adversity and perseverance. 

Developed in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, these opinionated, angry, deeply moving and ultimately inspiring tales bring to light the lives of those caught out by the cruelties of global and sexual politics. 

Told with theatrical energy and imagination, ‘Hearts Unspoken’ is a piece of theatre that looks beyond the bureaucracies of the asylum processes and focuses on the human, personal relationships and interactions. 

‘Hearts Unspoken’ was created in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, the leading independent charity providing advice and information for refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. The organisation will help stage an after-show discussion on the issues raised in the play on Thursday 8th September. 

Hearts Unspoken director Sam Rowe explains: ‘These are not only tales of exclusion and persecution, but also incredibly moving accounts of over-coming personal situations for the right to self-expression, to live without fear and, of course, to love. 

‘In staging this production my motivation isn’t only to raise awareness of LGBT asylum rights. I hope ‘Hearts Unspoken’ will take people beyond the issues, and confront them with the very human heart of these dramatic stories. Stories, I believe, everyone can relate to.’ 

Belinda McElhinney, Arts and Cultural Development Officer for Scottish Refugee Council, who will be chairing the after-show discussion on Thursday 8th September, said: ‘Hearts Unspoken’ deserves to be seen. The process of seeking protection is complex and difficult for everyone, and research shows that in the past gay and lesbian people have been subject to homophobia from the agencies who are set up to protect them.

‘Since 2010, the Home Office has pledged to improve the way they treat lesbian and gay people in the asylum system, but recent news has shown that they still have no way to track how many cases made on the basis of sexuality are granted or refused. There’s still a lot of work to do to make the system better, and this play gives us a glimpse of what lesbian and gay asylum seekers are up against, both during their claim and as they adjust to life in the UK.’ 

For further information or images contact Rachel Jury on: Tel: 07811 394 058 or admin@confab.org.uk



Notes to Editors: 

  • Hearts Unspoken

Director: Sam Rowe

Cast: Asif Dewan, Roderick Cowie, Tonderai Munyebvu 

  • Venue details:

Changing House, Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow

Tron Theatre, 0141 552 4267


  • Performances

8pm, Wed 7th Sep - Sat 10th Sep, 2011

After show discussion Thursday 8th 

  • A blog following the progress of the project can be viewed at: http://heartsunspokenblog.blogspot.com/ 
  • In 2010 gay rights charity Stonewall published ‘No Going Back’, which showed that the UK Border Agency had been relying on inaccurate information and outdated ideas about homosexuality in assessing asylum claims. It also revealed that the UKBA displayed ‘systemic homophobia’ in its treatment of LGBT cases and claimants.
  • On 7 July 2010, the Supreme Court made the landmark ruling that asylum seekers should not be returned to their country of origin on the grounds that they could hide their sexuality by ‘living discreetly’.  This sparked a commitment from the Home Office to improve treatment of gay people in the system, by rolling out better guidance and training. 
  • In March 2011, the Equality Network, BEMIS and GRAMNet published ‘Sanctuary, Safety and Solidarity’, a report on LGBT asylum seekers in Scotland. It showed that despite new policy instructions from UKBA and the Supreme Court ruling, ‘a person fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity still faces many obstacles before they can qualify for protection’.
  • In May 2011, it was revealed that the Home Office do not keep data on people who are granted or refused asylum on grounds of sexuality. 
  • Scottish Refugee Council provides help and advice to those who have fled human rights abuses or other persecution in their homeland and now seek refuge in Scotland.  We are a membership organisation that works independently and in partnership with others to provide support to refugees from arrival to settlement and integration into Scottish society. We campaign to ensure that the UK Government meets its international, legal and humanitarian obligations and to raise awareness of refugee issues. For more information see www.scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk