In this lecture Kerri Woods will discuss her recent research on the construction of LGBTQ identities in the UK Asylum Policies. How are these constructions created and why are they harmful? She will propose a project of better understanding and identifying the ways this injustice is generated.
The ‘hostile environment’ all migrants to the UK face is particularly and specifically hostile for LGBTQ asylum-seekers. Normative theorists of refugee issues tend to focus on the regulation of borders, taking immigrants as a uniform group. But this approach ignores the specificity of experiences and generates blindness to specific injustices.
The UK’s Asylum Policy Instructions on Sexual Orientation direct asylum decision-makers to a set of expectations of what it is to be LGBTQ, in order to assess the validity of claims based on persecution related to sexual orientation and/or gender identity. In this talk, Kerri Woods argues that within this policy, heteronormative and neo-colonial understandings of sexuality coalesce with a culture of suspicion towards refugees and an institutionalised conceptualisation of LGBTQ identities, generating a pernicious form of epistemic injustice within the asylum decision-making process for LGBTQ people.
This is not just a credibility deficit, as is experienced generally by refugees, it is more like an institutionally-produced incapacity to hear the testimony that says, ‘my experience of being gay does not match your expectations of what a gay person is’.
Kerri Woods will explain the construction of this incapacity as an example of what, in another context, Polhause Jnr calls wilful hermeneutic ignorance. This framework allows us to capture the wrongfulness of this process for adjudicating asylum applications, even in cases where the ‘right’ result is reached. In her talk, Woods will propose an ameliorative project of better understanding and identifying the ways in which this injustice is generated, as a precondition for effective remedy.
About Kerri Woods
Kerri Woods is lecturer in Political Theory at the University of Leeds. She has written on human rights theory, environmental human rights, solidarity, feminist thought and refugees. Currently, she is leading an interdisciplinary White Rose Consortium funded research network on 'Understanding Solidarity amid Refugee Crises'.
This event is organised as part of the ACES / IMES Migration lecture series. This series presents new and inspiring scholarship on migration and migrants broadly defined: ranging from the politics of immigration, integration, and identity to migration drivers and trajectories, and from integration dynamics to ethnic and racial diversity. Speakers explore these dynamics in Europe and beyond. The series strives to promote interdisciplinary exchange between scholars in the social sciences and beyond, as well as between scholars, students, and practitioners.”