O’Leary, ‘“We Cannot Claim Any Particular Knowledge of the Ways of Homosexuals, Still Less of Iranian Homosexuals …”’, 2008
B. O’Leary, ‘“We Cannot Claim Any Particular Knowledge of the Ways of Homosexuals, Still Less of Iranian Homosexuals …”: The Particular Problems Facing Those Who Seek Asylum on the Basis of their Sexual Identity’, 2008 Feminist Legal Studies, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 87–95
Many lesbians and gay men apply for asylum in the U.K. each year on the basis that they fear persecution in their home country because of their sexual orientation. The legal basis for claiming asylum on the ground of sexual identity is now well established. Nevertheless, making these claims remains very difficult for applicants. Western cultural expectations around sexual identity often mix with homophobic assumptions about sexual behaviour to present applicants as “not sufficiently gay”. Furthermore, applicants may not initially disclose their sexual identity to legal advisors, leading to assumptions that they are not “telling the truth” to the Immigration Tribunal. In this article, Barry O’Leary, a solicitor and legal activist on behalf of lesbian and gay refugees, discusses these problems and how U.K.-based asylum lawyers have attempted to work round them.
Keywords: asylum seekers, homosexuality, human rights, immigration, Refugee Convention, same-sex relationships, sexual identity