With voting registration now closed, people with refugee status in Scotland are preparing to cast their ballot on 6th May – many for the first time.

In February 2020, the Scottish Parliament passed a new law which extends the right to vote in Scottish elections to people who are over 16 and live in Scotland. This includes everyone with leave to remain, including people with refugee status.

Our friend Ahlam from Saheliya explains more about what it means to gain the right to vote, writing for Greater Govanhill magazine.

“I am so happy that this year I will be able to vote in the Scottish Parliamentary elections for the first time and the day when the Bill giving refugees the right to vote was passed was one of my happiest moments. This is a very important step forward for equal rights in Scotland. But we are still campaigning for asylum seekers to have the right to vote.”

One of the people we support through our Refugee Integration Service had this to say about voting for the first time:

“Please understand, I think this is more important than housing and universal credit for me.

“As this is one of the few countries in the world that allows refugees to vote, I am honoured to participate in this historic moment. It is especially meaningful because I come from a country where the people have no actual voting rights.

“I have realized it is my right to be treated as a human being. I love the land of Glasgow and Scotland, this is my home country.

“Let Glasgow flourish, God bless Scotland.”


Find out more about our work on voting rights and download our resources for New Scots voting in May.

We’ve taken a look at the manifestos being put forward by each of the main political parties to see where they stand on providing a welcoming and inclusive Scotland for people seeking safety. You can read our response, and a short summary of  each manifesto, here.

Chris Afuakwah
Author: Chris Afuakwah