Suella Braverman has said multiculturalism has “failed” as she claimed immigration posed an “existential challenge” to the West.
In a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think-tank in Washington DC on Tuesday, the home secretary said immigration into Europe had been “too much, too quick”.
“Uncontrolled immigration, inadequate integration and a misguided dogma of multiculturalism have proven a toxic combination for Europe over the last few decades,” she said.
“Multiculturalism makes no demands of the incomer to integrate. It has failed. Because it has allowed people to come to our society and live parallel lives in it.”
She added: “Uncontrolled and illegal migration is an existential challenge for political and cultural institutions of the West.”
And the home secretary warned a failure to crackdown on immigration would “create the conditions for more extreme politics”.
Braverman said fearing discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be enough to qualify people for refugee status, in order to cut the numbers.
And she questioned whether the landmark 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention was “fit for our modern age”.
Braverman cited figures calculated by the right-wing Centre for Policy Studies which said the convention now meant “at least 780 million people” worldwide had the right to claim asylum in another country.
Labour’s shadow equalities minister Anneliese Dodds sharply criticised the speech.
“Homosexuality is criminalised and even subject to the death penalty in many countries,” she said. “And it’s a fact that LGBT+ people make up a tiny proportion of asylum claims.
“This is dangerous rhetoric from a home secretary blaming everyone else for her failures.”
Sonya Sceats, the chief executive of Freedom from Torture, said: “LGBTQI+ people are tortured in many countries for who they are and who they love, and their pain is no less than other survivors we treat in our therapy rooms.
“They deserve precisely the same protection too. For a liberal democracy like Britain to try to weaken protection for this community is shameful.”
According to Human Rights Watch at least 67 countries have laws criminalising same-sex relationships.
Braverman is seen as a likely Tory leadership candidate should the Conservative Party lose the next election as expected.
Ahead of the speech Labour accused her of “grandstanding abroad” rather than dealing with the “asylum chaos at home”.