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[Review] fleeing homophobia: sexual orientation, gender identity and asylum. By Thomas Spijkerboer (ed)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-10, 05:16 authored by Diego GARCIA RODRIGUEZ
Fleeing Homophobia: Sexual orientation, gender identity and asylum, edited by Thomas Spijkerboer, brings together scholars from distinct fields (such as law, migration and conflict management) to explore the major legal issues arising in relation to LGBTI people seeking asylum in Europe, while also considering the context of refugee law in non-European settings such as Canada, Australia and the United States. Organised into ten chapters, including the introduction, it attempts to provide the reader with an examination of both the general EU legislation and the specific cases of Member States. The collection brings together chapters emerging from the Fleeing Homophobia conference, which took place in Amsterdam in 2011. The volume begins with the refugee definition provided by the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, highlighting that sexual orientation and gender identity are not mentioned therein, and noting that these have gradually been recognised as persecution grounds in the last years. The first chapter, by Jansen, presents the outcomes of the Fleeing Homophobia research project which explored issues affecting LGBTI asylum seekers such as credibility, late disclosure, and reasons employed to reject asylum applications (the possibility of hiding one’s gender identity or sexual orientation, or the absence of legislation criminalising same-sex acts in a country of origin). This is an important chapter, since it draws the reader into the realities faced by LGBTI asylum seekers and is easy to read by a non-expert audience. The author also stresses the lack of research focusing on lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex people. While their underrepresentation is obvious, an increasing number of works on lesbian (see Bennett and Thomas, 2013; and the work of Rachel Lewis, 2010 and 2013) and trans (see Gowin et al, 2017; Waynet, 2016; Bach, 2013; Jenkins, 2009) asylum seekers has been published in the years before and after Fleeing Homophobia was printed in hardback (2013), and more recently in paperback (2015). Jansen’s contribution reveals the existing discordances between Member States’ protection of LGBTI refugees and EU standards, which is extremely relevant in the context of the contemporary refugee landscape in Europe. The introduction, however, does not provide a nuanced or consistent definition of the acronym LGBTI, which is used interchangeably throughout the book with LGBT.


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  • Published

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  • Published version


Journal of Refugee Studies




Oxford University Press (OUP)





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  • Global Health and Infection Publications

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