Khalbuss, ‘Precarious Living, Absent Livelihoods’, 2020

Subject Area

Sexual Orientation/Sexuality
Gender Identity






International | Other

Year Published



Sarah Khalbuss, ‘Precarious Living, Absent Livelihoods: LGBTQI Refugees in ‘First Asylum Cities’, 2020 OxMo Vol. 9, No. 1, 16-30


This paper explores the challenges that LGBT refugees face in ‘first asylum cities’–a term I use to denote the cities in countries where LGBT refugees tend to migrate first with the objective of registering for resettlement to other countries later. Even though LGBT people often migrate to cities, the academic literature on LGBT refugees tends to focus on resettled refugees, largely ignoring the experiences of those awaiting resettlement in first asylum cities. By drawing from the few studies conducted on the everyday life of LGBT refugees in first asylum cities and my personal experience of teaching English to LGBT refugees in Istanbul in 2018, this paper presents the motivations for why LGBT individuals migrate to first asylum cities and the challenges they encounter in the migration process. It then shows how Gender-Based Violence (GBV) influences LGBT refugees’ access to protection in first asylum cities in addition to illustrating how LGBT refugees deal with the traumas of the asylum process. The paper continues by highlighting the reasons behind the limited literature on LGBT refugees’ livelihoods in first asylum cities and emphasizes the need for adequate interventions to enhance LGBT refugees’ livelihoods. Finally, it offers recommendations to practitioners for initiating a livelihood intervention that is sensitive to LGBT refugees’ specific needs and vulnerabilities. Ultimately, this paper calls upon practitioners working with refugees to have a deeper understanding of the unique position of LGBT refugees.