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Achieving asylum or refugee status on the basis of sexual orientation is generally linked to a large number of legal and procedural obstacles and such applications are often unsuccessful. Present international guidance on refugee rights for gay people is very sparse. This paper seeks examine some of the core issues that arise in refugee claims based on sexual orientation, with a focus on lesbian and gay claimants only. It seeks to answer the following questions: How have decision-makers dealt with gay and lesbian refugee claimants? Are decision-makers adequately prepared for the complexities of sexuality-based refugee claims? How have the different elements of the Convention definition been interpreted so as to include or exclude gay refugees? What particular obstacles and difficulties do gay and lesbian refugees face in their claims?

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Working paper


Refugee Studies Centre

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