Securing the Queer Refuge: Comparing Asylum Policies in the United States and United Kingdom

The global governance and human security question of refugee resettlement remains a contested one. How the LGBTQ population fair in this flux remains largely overlooked, despite the particular vulnerabilities experienced by the group. This paper will engage with feminist security studies literature and a queer theory lens to illustrate the unique needs of the LGBTQ population and the necessary policy implications for meeting these needs today. The author intends to make a comparative analysis of the process of screening same-sex couples in the UK to the screening process for same-sex couples in America. The American 2015 refugee policy for the first time makes allowances for people in same-sex couples to seek asylum. But how will people establish themselves as being part of a ‘legitimate’ homosexual relationship in need of protection by another state? Some practices such as a requirement of video evidence of sexual activity, used in some cases in the UK, raise serious ethical questions on behalf of the role of the state offering security. This paper looks to LGBTQ organizations that have long worked with LGBTQ asylum cases such as Heartland International to report best practices and assess how and if these best practices are applied in both America and the United Kingdom. Of utmost importance in this analysis is an intersectional analysis that considers what a feminist policy for sexual rights would look like and how that applies to asylum cases. Queer theory relevant to queer international relations scholarship will also be engaged. This paper will also consider how a narrow “homonormative” framing of the “good” LGBTQ refugee leaves out many queer and trans individuals or couples who may not fall within this Western categorization. In a post-marriage equality America, this question of securing queer refugees is an interesting space to observe the contested landscape of which narratives of LGBTQ lives are shared and which remain hidden or ignored.

Academic presentation including overview of methodology, analysis, preliminary findings and next steps in research.

Rationale for inclusion:
Massive migration of people living in conflict has grabbed the headlines. The narrative for this coverage focuses primarily on men with little attention to women, let alone queers and trans refuges. This paper engages with the marginalized community of refuges left out of the headline grabbing refuge crisis story. Furthermore, this paper will engage with the way certain “safe” same-sex refugee couples are used in American politics to promote certain political agendas within the global queer wars.


Part of panel Transnational Issues in LGBTQ Politics
October 2, 2016, 09:00–10:45