Constructing the Personal Narratives of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Asylum Claimants
32 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 8, 2009
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: Suggested Citation