Queer legibility and the refugee status determination process

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Cochrane, Brandy ORCID: 0000-0003-0407-8879 (2023) Queer legibility and the refugee status determination process. Sexualities: studies in culture and society. ISSN 1363-4607


It is well documented that LGBTIQ+ applicants face a multitude of stereotypes and biases from decision-makers worldwide. We build on literature that argues that there is an unspoken component of credibility – to what extent the applicant is legible to the decision-maker. Based on interviews with legal representatives of LGBTIQ+ people seeking asylum in Australia, we observe that if the applicant’s narrative and label of their lived experience is familiar to the decision-maker, they are more likely to be understood by the decision-maker. Those whose experiences fall outside Western, and specifically Australian, conceptualisations of sexuality and gender identity categories are less legible to the decision-maker, than those who present a dominant, definitive, and stable identity narrative that is ‘out and proud’. Importantly, this paper also found that legal representatives shepherd applicants towards a clear label to perform an identity that is understood, or knowable to decision-makers.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/45708
DOI 10.1177/13634607231168768
Official URL https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/136346072...
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4410 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > College of Law and Justice
Keywords LGBTQIA+, stereotype, lived experience, narrative experience, asylum
Citations in Scopus 0 - View on Scopus
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