Who is “Queerer” and Deserves Resettlement?: Queer Asylum Seekers and Their Deservingness of Refugee Status in Turkey

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This article is relevant for humanitarian practitioners engaged in refugee status determination process, and for those involved in resettlement and policy development. This article offers important considerations for the refugee status determination processes.

This academic journal article looks at the implication of refugee status determination RSD) process for queer asylum seekers in Turkey. The article was developed out of fourteen months of field work and scrutinises the role of UNHCR in policing sexuality and gender identity of queer refugees, and in determining the ‘deservingness’ of different expressions of queerness.

The article opens with a background on RSD regimes and the shift towards including sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for asylum. The article considers the ways asylum seekers with diverse SOGI are expected to perform their gender in western contexts. The article then points to the lack of literature around how UNHCR shapes queer asylum seek-procedures on a national level in transit countries such as Turkey.

The paper then provides a consideration of the ‘fake cases’ arguments, whereby asylum seekers are determined to be ‘faking’ their diverse SOGI based on certain criteria. This section presents interviews and specific case studies with queer asylum seekers on their experiences with ‘fake cases.’ The paper than moves into an overview of asylum-seeking processes in Turkey with a focus on how these steps shape queerness.

The paper then considers how gender identity must be performed in RSD interviews. The author points to several different contexts where homophobia has been made legal or illegal. The ways that RSD prioritises state persecution over family persecution is examined. The paper then considers third country resettlement, and the construction of a ‘deserving queer refugee’ within the context of Turkey (where refugee laws state that all refugees under international protection must be resettled to a third country).

The conclusion further considers the rhetoric of ‘fake cases’ and the construction of deservingness.

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"...UNHCR officials during RSD interviews do not ask queer refugees to ‘prove’ their sexuality and gender identity. Instead, they simply note down how queer refugees describe their sexuality and gender identity and move on to ask how they have been persecuted in their home countries as a result of their declared sexuality and gender identity."

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This academic journal article looks at the implication of refugee status determination RSD) process for queer asylum seekers in Turkey. The article was developed out of fourteen months of field work and scrutinises the role of UNHCR in policing sexuality and gender identity of queer refugees, and in determining the ‘deservingness’ of different expressions of queerness.

The article opens with a background on RSD regimes and the shift towards including sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for asylum. The article considers the ways asylum seekers with diverse SOGI are expected to perform their gender in western contexts. The article then points to the lack of literature around how UNHCR shapes queer asylum seek-procedures on a national level in transit countries such as Turkey.

The paper then provides a consideration of the ‘fake cases’ arguments, whereby asylum seekers are determined to be ‘faking’ their diverse SOGI based on certain criteria. This section presents interviews and specific case studies with queer asylum seekers on their experiences with ‘fake cases.’ The paper than moves into an overview of asylum-seeking processes in Turkey with a focus on how these steps shape queerness.

The paper then considers how gender identity must be performed in RSD interviews. The author points to several different contexts where homophobia has been made legal or illegal. The ways that RSD prioritises state persecution over family persecution is examined. The paper then considers third country resettlement, and the construction of a ‘deserving queer refugee’ within the context of Turkey (where refugee laws state that all refugees under international protection must be resettled to a third country).

The conclusion further considers the rhetoric of ‘fake cases’ and the construction of deservingness.