Roundtable: Precarious rights of LGBT refugees – experiences from Norway as a recieving state

Same-sex conduct between consenting adults is today criminalized in 78 countries, in 6 of them punished by death. LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) persons are also frequently targeted by relatives and non-state actors or risk lack of real protection from homo- and transphobic authorities. As a consequence, these sexual minorities have sought to seek refuge elsewhere. The sexual and gender-based refuge claims are now within the scope of EU law, making LGBTI individuals eligible for seeking refuge. Many countries, including Norway, grant asylum rights to people who have to flee their home country due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. But how does this work in practice? How is “at risk” understood and determined in the context of LGBT refugees?

Research and media reports show that queer refugees still meet great challenges in practice, despite recent developments within migration law. One of them is how to prove sexual orientation and/or gender identity. To prove credibility, the LGBTI asylum seeker is reliant on evidence that don’t exists or rarely are objective, in a very limited legal framework that address complexities of sexuality and visibility.

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Deniz Akin, PhD scholar at the Norwegian University
of Science and Technology, will share her findings from her ongoing PhD project “Queer Challenges to the Norwegian Policies and Practices of Immigration: Asylum seeking in Norway on the grounds of sexual orientation-based persecution”.

Olav Elgvin, PhD scholar at the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen. His PhD project is part of a larger cross-disciplinary project on IMER topics (international migration and ethnic relations) and has worked with, among other things, LGBT in ethnic minorities, migration sociology and how the Norwegian society perceives immigrants.

Georg Schjerven Hansen has a master degree in law from UiO, and works as project leader in the NGO SEIF. He will share experiences about the challenges of working with LGBT asylum cases, both in the appeal prosess and in court.

Susanne Demou Øvergaard, Secretary-general in the NGO Queer World (Skeiv Verden), will share experiences from the Norwegian organisation’s work with LGBTI asylum seekers seeking protection in Norway.

The panel will be preceded and moderated by Yngvild Gotaas Torvik, research assistant at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation, and master’s student in human rights and migration studies, at Sciences Po, Paris.