Gender, Sexuality, Asylum and European Human Rights

Forthcoming in Law and Critique

19 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2017

See all articles by Thomas Spijkerboer

Thomas Spijkerboer

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Date Written: September 15, 2017


Asylum law functions through a dichotomy between an idealized notion of Europe as a site characterized by human rights, and non-European countries as sites of oppression. In most social sciences and humanities literature, this dichotomy is seen as legitimizing European dominance and exclusion of non-Europeans. However, it is the same dichotomy which is used by asylum seekers to claim inclusion through the grant of asylum. Focusing on the inclusive potential of this exclusive dichotomy allows us to explore the ambiguities inherent in the dichotomy. In asylum claims based on persecution on account of gender and sexuality, it becomes evident that not all human rights are considered equally fundamental. In many cases, asylum seekers are required to renounce human rights in order to prevent persecution, for example by complying with patriarchal family norms. Even where this requirement is rejected, asylum law illustrates the ambiguous relation between Europe and human rights.

Keywords: asylum law, refugee law, gender, sexual orientation

Suggested Citation

Spijkerboer, Thomas, Gender, Sexuality, Asylum and European Human Rights (September 15, 2017). Forthcoming in Law and Critique, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Spijkerboer (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
+31 20 598 6274 (Phone)

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