Connely, ‘Queer, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt’, 2014
Elizabeth Connely, ‘Queer, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Refugee Experiences of “Passing” into “Membership of a Particular Social Group”‘, UCL Migration Research Unit
Working Papers 2014/3
Sexual orientation-based asylum claims have historically been fraught with difficulties. Although considered eligible for refugee protection in a small number of countries beginning the 1990s, knowledge and acceptance of sexual minorities is itself a relatively recent phenomenon in the countries that accept their claims. In many cases decision-makers have been shown to rely on stereotypes of what they consider to be ‘gay’ identity. Following the 2010 (HJ) Iran (HT) Cameroon ruling, anecdotal evidence suggests that decision-makers are increasingly refusing Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) asylum claims based on negative credibility findings. This paper presents the results of a small qualitative research project that examined the way the UK asylum system is negotiated by queer asylum-seekers themselves, focusing on in-depth interviews with applicants who had been refused at least once and were submitting a fresh claim. It focuses primarily on the issue of providing ‘proof’ for the claim by examining specifically the impact and experience of gathering evidence and creating a narrative for the claim. The findings suggest that the asylum process substantially regulates the way queer asylum seekers feel they must live and that they must regularly negotiate between what the Home Office demands and what they are willing give.