Queer strangers: Lesbian and gay refugees



McGhee D (2003) Queer strangers: Lesbian and gay refugees. Feminist Review, 73 (1), pp. 145-147.

When we consider sexuality as the grounds of an application for refugee status we enter into a highly charged discursive field which has existed since the introduction of the United Nations Convention of 1951. This controversy surrounds the provision for persecution on account of membership of a particular social group. This is one of the most contested ‘provisions’ in refugee law. Lesbian and gay applications for refugee status under the persecuted social group category are characterized by the following three problems, which I have presented below in the form of questions. Firstly, can prosecution, or the threat of prosecution, for ‘sexual offences’ be considered a form of persecution? Secondly, can groups whose associations are those of choice, rather than familial, tribal and racial bonds be included in the convention ‘social group status? Thirdly, how can membership of a group be proven when some groups, such as lesbians and gays, form clandestine and secretive ‘associations’ in cultures that are hostile to them? In this paper my intention is to proceed to comment on the context of the emergence of such ‘questions’ and ‘difficulties’ during immigration tribunals in the 1990s in the UK and elsewhere; and to briefly comment on how these issues have been resolved in the context of refugee law.

Feminist Review: Volume 73, Issue 1

FundersUniversity of Southampton
Publication date30/04/2003
Publication date online01/04/2003

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Professor Derek McGhee

Professor Derek McGhee

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