Midlands-based gay couple fighting for their relationship following Home Office rejection

Catherine Muxworthy January 15, 2024

A married gay couple – Jack and George Scott-Lee who are both professional dancers, running a dance academy in Tipton – have been left ‘heartbroken’ after the Home Office rejected George’s partner visa, giving him just 14 days to leave the country. George, who is originally from Venezuela, arrived in the UK in 2020, as a tourist.

He met his now-husband, Jack, whilst the pair were both competing as professional dancers. George applied for his partner visa when he married Jack Scott-Lee from Dudley two years ago. Despite meeting all the Home Office requirements and spending thousands of pounds on visa fees, however, his application was rejected, leaving the couple fighting to stay in the UK.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All spousal visa applications are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the Immigration Rules and evidence provided.”

“We’ve both been under major stress – we’re heartbroken,” Jack told BirminghamLive about the Home Office decision.

“I’ve lived in Birmingham all my life; my business is here and my family is here and the Home Office is telling us to go to Venezuela and hope for the best.

“We’re being told to either separate or move to a country where we’ll be unsafe. We want to live our lives together and do all the things married couples do, and now we might have those dreams taken away from us.

Salman Mirza with Jack and George

“All my life I have campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights, our rights to exist, to marry and to live our lives – I volunteer at Birmingham Pride every year. Now to be told we might have to move to a country where homophobia is rife and those rights will be taken away from us. We don’t know what we’re going to do – it’s so stressful.”

According to the Home Office’s own GOV.UK information, while same-sex relationships are not illegal, Venezuelan law does not recognise same-sex partnerships, “so same-sex partners have no rights as next of kin”. Additionally, “showing affection in public will most likely be frowned on by locals and may draw negative attention from the police and other security forces.” In fact, the Venezuelan government was recently accused of ‘state-sponsored homophobia’ after police arrested 33 men in an LGBTQ+ nightclub.

The pair have urged the Home Office to show some compassion regarding the 14-day window given to George to leave the UK while they prepare their appeal against the decision. Their plan to appeal has been given the backing of Sandwell Mayor Bill Gavan – a prominent member of West Midland’s LGBTQ+ community, who said he was “appalled” at the decision and would “willingly lead on any shouting required”.

Salman Mirza, of Brushstrokes Community Project, the couple’s legal representative, said: “This is the result, yet again, of a hostile environment policy bereft of both logic and humanity. I’m sure it was a mistake which will hopefully be rectified by the Home Office, saving both the taxpayer and this couple valuable time and money.”