Mon, 09 Jul 2018
S Chelvan has been awarded an Attitude Pride Award for his work defending cases involving LGBT+ asylum seekers facing deportation. The awards are only in their third year and are given by Attitude magazine – the UK’s best-selling gay magazine.
Chelvan was nominated for the award by Daniel Winterfeldt, who is the founder of the InterLaw Diversity forum. The awards ceremony at the Berkley Hotel in Knightsbridge last Friday was hosted by Judge Robert Rinder awarding a total of 10 awards to LGBT+ people and their allies who have overcome life-changing events or worked selflessly to improve the lives of others. Chelvan is the first lawyer awarded an award in recognition of national and global impact on the law and LGBT+ rights.
In 2011, Chelvan pioneered the DSSH (Difference, Stigma, Shame, Harm) model, as a tool to help LGBT+ asylum seekers articulate their claim. He says the model creates trigger questions through which the asylum seeker can tell their story.
The model has been adopted by the UK Home Office and endorsed internationally by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, as a positive tool to aid the determination of an asylum claim. In illustrating the success of the model, two refugees who had successfully been granted asylum due to the use of the model provided testimonials broadcast to over 200 guests who attended the awards ceremony.
He has helped to change the life of Aderonke Apata, a 2017 Attitude Pride Award winner, who after a 13-year battle with the Home Office over her right to remain in the UK, was granted the right to asylum after Chelvan became her legal counsel in April 2015 (instructed by Sean McLoughlin of TRP Solicitors through public funding).
Aderonke states in the video, “When I was facing that threat trying to be deported, it was just a thin line between me being safe and dead. If someone could stand into that role and take my case up to the Court of Appeal and he got that judgment to come back to the Home Office to be able to put in a fresh application, and he fought the way that he fought up to when the Home Office conceded and give me asylum - is magical to me.”
Another one of Chelvan’s cases was Danila Stepin, who came to study in the UK but faced deportation to his home country, Russia, six years later. Chelvan successfully secured his asylum within 3 months, instructed through the Bar Council Public Access Scheme. Danila states, “Chelvan is really an admirable man – he saves people’s lives.”
Presenting the award to S Chelvan, BBC journalist and presenter, Naga Munchetty, said: “He is a radiant example of the best of humanity. His work has helped change the way LGBT+ people's Asylum cases are assessed in the Home Office. He got to the core of this matter and his work is even being recognised by the United Nations. He is a man surely to be celebrated.”
Chelvan, accepting the award, said: “As a barrister I am a storyteller, I am an interpreter, I interpret the words of my client into that foreign language we call the law, but to be able to tell their stories we must provide those clients with a safe space and we must listen. I want to be the mouthpiece for those who know the words but have no voice.”
“This is an ongoing effort, one where every one of us needs to keep working on in order to live freely and openly.”
To find out more about the award and to see video testimonials from Aderonke Apata and Danila Stepin, visit: https://attitude.co.uk/article/attitude-pride-awards-the-human-rights-lawyer-defending-lgbt-asylum-seekers-from-deportation/18411/
S Chelvan is a member of the following groups at No5 Chambers: Immigration, Asylum and Nationality, International Human Rights Law and Public Law.
View S Chelvan’s profile here: http://www.no5.com/barristers/barrister-details/299-s-chelvan/