Homosexuality and refugee status in the United Kingdom



McGhee D (2001) Homosexuality and refugee status in the United Kingdom. Sociological Research Online, 6 (1), pp. 83-90.

In this paper the legal institutional practices whereby refugee statuses are determined is subjected to examination through the vehicle of cases where homosexuality has been the basis of the application for refugee status. What emerges in this article is a narrative of homosexuals being excluded from and eventually included in refugee status in the United Kingdom. This narrative is played out within the discursive context of a particular definition of refugee status, namely, that of being a member of a persecuted social group. It is through the analysis of refugee case law in the United Kingdom and internationally that homosexuality is presented, as providing specific problems for refugee law in terms of whom, and in what circumstances, should be included in the ‘social group’ category. In this paper it will be demonstrated that homosexual cases are significant in relation to the attempt to overcome ‘exclusive definitions’ of ‘persecuted social groups’ in refugee law. This is evident, most particularly in terms of the increasing connection between International Refugee Law and International Human Rights Law in the consideration of the persecution experienced by homosexuals in the cases analysed in the paper.

Convention; Homosexuality; Human Rights; Persecution; Refugee Law; Social Group; United Nations

Sociological Research Online: Volume 6, Issue 1

FundersUniversity of Southampton
Publication date31/05/2001
Date accepted by journal28/05/2001

People (1)


Professor Derek McGhee

Professor Derek McGhee

Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences