Study looking at the lived experiences of LGBTQ migrants and asylum seekers available as a free Open Access download
University College London Press publishes new academic textbook on queer migration and asylum in Europe
02 March 2021
University College London (UCL) Press last week published a comprehensive new academic textbook on queer migration and asylum in Europe.
Richard C. M. Mole, the book's editor and Professor of Political Sociology at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, said: "I have chosen the term queer as an umbrella term for individuals who, in the Western context at least, would normally be referred to as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans. A further benefit of queer is that the term reflects the fact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans are often seen as specifically Western terms and not reflective of the sense of identity of sexual and gender minorities in other parts of the world."
The book is part of UCL Press' FRINGE series, which presents work related to the themes of 'Fluidity, Resistance, Invisibility, Neutrality, Grey zones, and Elusiveness'.
UCL explains in the book's preface: "In line with the ethos of the FRINGE series, this volume offers a trans-regional and cross-disciplinary approach to the topics of queer migration and asylum. Queer migrants and asylum seekers often live on the fringes of society, yet the way they are viewed and treated reveals a lot about the nature of those societies. In this volume an international team of sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists and legal scholars takes readers on a tour through the migration and asylum systems of a range of European states, uncovering the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals who have moved, or are in the process of moving, to or within the European Union and the United Kingdom. The volume shines a light on the lives of migrants and asylum seekers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, who have migrated to or sought asylum in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Identifying the underlying patterns, cleavages and ambiguities in these migrations – whether voluntary or forced – as well as the motivations and strategies for migrating, this volume explores the dynamics of ethnic and queer diasporas and engages in legal debates about what constitutes a 'legitimate' or 'credible' queer asylum seeker."
The eleven chapters of the book cover:
• An introduction on queering migration and asylum by Richard C. M. Mole.
• Universal humanity vs national citizenship: the example of same-sex partner immigration in Europe by Robert Wintemute, Professor of Human Rights Law at King's College London.
• 'The gay person always looks for the big European city': the sexual migration of Latin American gay men in London by Cristian Valenzuela, Research Associate at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.
• Rethinking diaspora: queer Poles, Brazilians and Russians in Berlin by Richard C. M. Mole.
• An exercise in detachment: the Council of Europe and sexual minority asylum claims by Nuno Ferreira, Professor of Law at the University of Sussex.
• On the government of bisexual bodies: asylum case law and the biopolitics of bisexual erasure by Christian Klesse, Reader in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University
• (Des)haciendo fronteras: Latin American LGBTIQ asylum seekers in Spain in the process of credibility assessment by Aurora Perego, PhD student in Sociology and Social Research at Trento University.
• Between homonationalism and Islamophobia: comparing queer Caribbean and Muslim asylum seeking in/to the Netherlands by Keith E. McNeal, Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies at the University of Houston, and Sarah French Brennan, PhD in Applied Anthropology at Columbia University.
• 'They sent me to the mountain': the role space, religion and support groups play for LGBTIQ+ asylum claimants by Moira Dustin, research fellow in the Department of Law at the University of Sussex, and Nina Held, research and teaching fellow in Sociology at the University of Sussex.
• The (micro-)politics of support for LGBT asylum seekers in France by Sara Cesaro, PhD candidate in Sociology at the Université Paris VIII Vincennes-Saint-Denis.
• 'How much of a lesbian are you?' Experiences of LGBT asylum seekers in immigration detention in the UK by Sarah Singer, Senior Lecturer in Refugee Law at the Refugee Law Initiative, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
The last chapter should be particularly interesting for readers of EIN. Sarah Singer's study found LGBT asylum seekers experience "profound confusion and frustration, both with the UK's asylum system and with their own difficulties in meeting the expectations put on them."
All of the participants in the study described the experience of being detained as highly traumatic. Access to legal advice and representation for detainees is also highlighted as a significant problem.
Singer notes: "These problems can be compounded for LGBT asylum seekers when they are faced with legal representatives who have limited knowledge or understanding of the complexities of LGBT asylum cases, or are in some instances openly hostile. Esther described her first meeting with her solicitor: 'At first when he knew about what I was using [sexual orientation] for asylum seeking he told me point blank that he felt uncomfortable with it.' Kasun felt his solicitor had limited understanding of LGBT claims: 'Sometimes your lawyer, maybe he's [a] very specialist lawyer and he's a really experienced lawyer. But when he come to you, LGBT case, I felt that they don't know much.' Given these cumulative pressures, many found it difficult to substantiate an asylum claim and provide evidence to support their asylum claim."
The chapter continues: "Others voiced concerns at the constant pressure to conform to the Home Office's preconceived 'ideal' of homosexuality … Faced with these pressures, many participants in this study found themselves in the almost Kafkaesque situation of being required to conform with decision-makers' conscious or unconscious biases about what it means to be LGBT, and support this ideal by reference to objective evidence, while concomitantly being held in an environment in which they found they had to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity for fear of reprisal from DCOs [Detainee Custody Officers] or other detainees, and cut off from the outside world and the means of collating such evidence."