Damned Whores and the Border Police: Sex Workers and Refugee Status in Australia

30 Pages Posted: 23 May 2008

See all articles by Kristen L. Walker

Kristen L. Walker

University of Melbourne - Law School


This article addresses the question whether sex workers who face persecution because they are sex workers may be able to claim refugee status in Australia on the basis that they fear persecution as members of a particular social group. The author argues that they ought to be able to make such a claim. This is based either on the work in sex work, on the ground of the current Australian authorities on occupation as a form of particular social group under the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, or the sex in sex work, by analogy with lesbian and gay claims to refugee status. The author concludes, however, that such claims are unlikely to be successful until sex workers' rights are better recognised and protected under international and domestic law.

Keywords: sex worker, refugee status, persecution, Australia

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Walker, Kristen L., Damned Whores and the Border Police: Sex Workers and Refugee Status in Australia. Melbourne Univeristy Law Review, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2007, U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 332, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1136525

Kristen L. Walker (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010

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