Constructing the Personal Narratives of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Asylum Claimants

32 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2009

See all articles by Jenni Millbank

Jenni Millbank

University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law

Laurie Berg

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 8, 2009

Abstract

This article draws upon psychological and sociological literature to explore the issues that arise in eliciting and presenting a refugee narrative when the claim is based upon sexual orientation. Rigid notions of homosexual identity may consciously or subconsciously shape decision-makers' approaches in this field. First, we identify psycho-social issues of particular significance to lesbian, gay and bisexual claimants which may act as barriers to eliciting their narrative of self-identity, including: a reluctance to reveal group membership as the basis of a claim, the experience of passing or concealment strategies, the impact of shame and depression on memory, common experience of sexual assault, and sexualisation of the identity narrative in the legal process. Secondly, we explore factors which inhibit the reception of such narratives in the legal process. In particular we explore the psychological 'stage model' of sexual identity development and examine the pervasive impact this model has had upon decision-makers' 'pre-understanding' of sexual identity development as a uniform and linear trajectory.

Keywords: refugee narratives, sexual orientation, lesbian, gay, bisexual refugees, sexual identity, particular social group

JEL Classification: K19, K33

Suggested Citation

Millbank, Jenni and Berg, Laurie, Constructing the Personal Narratives of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Asylum Claimants (February 8, 2009). Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1339581

Jenni Millbank

University of Technology, Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Australia

Laurie Berg (Contact Author)

University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

Sydney
Australia

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