Lockdown measures are lifting gradually across the UK, and with that normality and freedom are starting to return.

With potential openings of club dance floors set for August 7 here in Wales, many young people are breathing a sigh of relief but for a minority of people in Wales, dance floors were never an option in the first place.

Asylum seekers come to the UK to escape violence, persecution and more. Their home country passport and ID is taken away and instead, a credit card-sized plastic card Application Registration Card (ARC), issued by the Home Office which contains information about the holder’s identity or claimed identity although it is not evidence of identity.

Read more: Nearly all coronavirus restrictions in Wales set to be lifted on August 7

That means that for some, including LGBT+ people who want to take the chance to experience queer culture and its night life they don't have a valid form of entry into most clubs and venues, leaving them feeling alone and isolated.

Rahim El Habachi, who left Morocco to move to the UK, said: "When I moved here from the UK, of course my passport was taken away as well as my Moroccan national ID and I was presented with an ID from the Home Office.

"The first time I got evicted from the courts I felt heartbroken, but I didn’t let it stop me.

"So I went to the venue and wanted a pint to just chill and see queer people. I didn’t know anyone at the time, I’d only been in the UK for 3 months. I didn’t have friends, I didn’t know anyone. The bouncer asked me for my ID and I presented the Home Office ID and he rejected my entry. I tried to explain to him and he literally said ‘I don’t give a f**k I don’t care’. I took my ID and I went back home crying, because it was just heartbreaking."

Proudly gay, Rahim left Morocco and claimed asylum here in the UK and now resides in Cardiff as a vocal activist and performer.

It took him almost four months to feel confident enough to go out to venues, Rahim was refused for his ARC after trying to enter Pulse nightclub in Cardiff with friends. Now holding a BRP card and granted refugee status, Rahim recalled how the rejection made him feel.

"One of the reasons I came to the UK was for the gay bars and the safe spaces for LGBT+ people to go to. Having that taken away from me really broke my heart," he added.

"We've written so many letters to venues but it's just rejection and it's not just LGBT+ clubs, I went to Tiger Tiger once and they rejected my entry. It's just chaos."

When asked for a comment about ID policies, a spokesperson from Pulse Cardiff said that the venue will "immediately take steps" to clarify if ARC cards are an acceptable form of Identification.

They said: "ARC cards are not listed on the copy of Acceptable ID Guidance we have been provided by the licensing authority but we will immediately take steps to clarify if they are an acceptable form of ID.

"If it is confirmed to comply with the conditions of our license we will of course be happy to accept them. It would never be our intention to refuse entry to anyone with a valid form of ID and we apologise if this has happened."

An issue that is not talked about enough according to activists, some have labelled LGBT+ asylum seekers and their issues as a victim of 'Pink washing'. The term is used to describe the action of using LGBT+ related issues in positive ways to distract attention from negative actions by organisations and/or governments.

Yasmin Begum, a community activist who lives in Cardiff, described asylum seekers as a "topic that is ignored."

Community activist Yasmin Begum thinks asylum seekers' issues are not spoken about enough

"This is a topic that is ignored. Wales is afraid about talking about race, so when sexuality is also a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, LGBTQ rights become a way for organisations to 'do diversity' without talking to BAME people," she said.

"This affects LGBT+ asylum seekers in so many ways. It is belittling and demeaning to their dignity and to their human rights.

"We are a nation of sanctuary in words only: Wales is in love with Pink washing. We are a nation of sanctuary where people without papers can't get Covid-19 vaccines and those with papers are refused entry to clubs. What has changed since the Wales Black Power movement in the 1970s?

"As a BAME LGBT+ person, I’m not turned away because of my ID. This is because I was born here, so even amongst BAME people, there is a split. My British passport will never be turned away, but my friend will because while they are BAME and LGBT+, a piece of paper seemingly makes me more valid and legitimate than them."

A request for a comment surrounding asylum seekers' means of identification was put forward to the Home Office but they are yet to supply comment.

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