“LGBTI Refugees, A Growing Concern: Changes in International Asylum Law Approach”


 LGBTI Refugees, A Growing Concern:

Changes in International Asylum Law Approach”

Marta D’Epifanio

16 November 2011, 03:00-05:00pm

İstanbul Bilgi University, Dolapdere Campus Room 514



LGBTI refugees, a growing concern: changes in international asylum law approach

LGBTI individuals are discriminated in different ways and to a different extent in many societies. So far there is no country where LGBTI individuals enjoy the same rights as heterosexual citizens.

Homophobia, criminalization of same-sex activity, and targeted violence force LGBTI individuals worldwide to flee their homelands for safer havens, often to again encounter discrimination. Thus, LGBTI migrants live in a situation of double marginality, both at the margins of society as LGBTI and of local LGBTI communities as migrants.
In this context, the presentation will focus on the emerging issue of credibility assessment in Refugee Status Determination (RSD) procedure. It will be discussed how international refugee law regime impacts on the RSD procedure, with a closer look at the situation in Turkey.In the last two decades, a lively international debate brought the option of seeking asylum on sexual orientation and gender identity in the 1951 Convention on the ground of membership to a particular social group. The process of recognition of such claim, however, met several hindrances. At first, the debate focused on whether a claim on SOGI grounds could be legitimately included in the particular social group. Secondly, another issue was brought up in connection to the ‘voluntarity’ of the aspect of sexual orientation and the possibility of living discreetly. The enforcement of discriminatory laws and attitudes against LGBTI individuals is thus recognized; with regards to international refugee law, the matter is in what extent it amounts to persecution.


Marta D’Epifanio, born in Italy, studied History of Art at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. In 2011, she graduated from the MA program in International Relations at İstanbul Bilgi University with the dissertation titled “Credibility Issues of LGBTI Asylum-Seekers in the Refugee Status Determination”. She worked as volunteer both at the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Association and LAMBDA in Istanbul.


Seminar will be held in English.


Contact: migcentre@bilgi.edu.tr / 0212 311 52 11

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