The Immutable Refugees: Sexual Orientation in Canada (A.G.) v. Ward

University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 1-41, 1997

42 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2011 Last revised: 2 Aug 2013

See all articles by Nicole LaViolette

Nicole LaViolette

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 1997

Abstract

International refugee law has been structured so that claimants must fit themselves into narrowly defined categories: the Canadian Immigration Act requires that refugee claimants establish a well-founded fear of persecution based on one of the enumerated grounds, namely race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. As sexual orientation is not enumerated, many lesbian and gay asylum seekers have attempted to establish their claim on the basis of "membership in a particular social group." The 1993 Supreme Court decision in Canada (A.G.) v. Ward has clarified that sexual orientation is a ground upon which a refugee claimant may claim membership in a particular social group because it is an innate or unchangeable characteristic. The decision in Ward, while a positive development, inappropriately classifies sexual orientation as an immutable personal characteristic. It suggests that lesbians and gay men are deserving of international protection only because they cannot change the personal attribute for which they are persecuted. Instead, refugee status should be granted because lesbians and gay men have a common social identity which is ascribed an inferior social and political status by their persecutors.

Suggested Citation

LaViolette, Nicole, The Immutable Refugees: Sexual Orientation in Canada (A.G.) v. Ward (1997). University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 1-41, 1997 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1803862

Nicole LaViolette (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
137
Abstract Views
795
rank
236,462
PlumX Metrics