Constructing a queer haven
Author: Thibaut Raboin

Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK analyses fifteen years of debate, activism and media narrative and examines the way asylum is conceptualized at the crossroads of nationhood, post colonialism and sexual citizenship, reshaping in the process forms of sexual belongings to the nation.

Asylum has become a foremost site for the formulation and critique of LGBT human rights. This book intervenes in the ongoing discussion of homonationalism, sheds new light on the limitations of queer liberalism as a political strategy, and questions the prevailing modes of solidarity with queer migrants in the UK.

This book employs the methods of Discourse Analysis to study a large corpus encompassing media narratives, policy documents, debates with activists and NGOs, and also counter discourses emerging from art practice. The study of these discourses illuminates the construction of the social problem of LGBT asylum. Doing so, it shows how our understanding of asylum is firmly rooted in the individual stories of migration that are circulated in the media. The book also critiques the exclusionary management of cases by the state, especially in the way the state manufactures the authenticity of queer refugees. Finally, it investigates the affective economy of asylum, assessing critically the role of sympathy and challenging the happy goals of queer liberalism.

This book will be essential for researchers and students specializing in refugee studies and queer studies.

Thibaut Raboin

1 Narrating LGBT asylum Before looking at the relationship between LGBT asylum and nationhood, as well as how they configure certain forms of queer optimism, it is essential to unpack the main ways in which LGBT asylum is defined as a social problem. Social problems engage the state, which is asked to deal with a particular problem and solve it. The social problem of LGBT asylum is therefore part of a process of collective definition, representation and narrativisation that gives a shape to what really is problematic about asylum, what needs to be solved, what

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Thibaut Raboin

5 The queer optimism of asylum This last chapter will look at the other side of the affective economy of LGBT asylum discourses, and concentrate on the question of optimism. Asylum discourses are bound up entirely, though often implicitly, with the question of queer futures and optimism. Behind the way hospitality for queer asylum refugees is conceived lies an organising nexus of homonationalism, neoliberalism and futurism, where liberal queerness itself is re-imagined as a goal orientating subjects. This chapter proposes that at the core of the social problem

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Abstract only
Thibaut Raboin

Introduction In March 2014, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a review of the way lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) asylum claims are handled in the United Kingdom (UK), after much criticism of the way claimants are treated and decisions are made. This step came fifteen years after the extension of asylum rights to claimants on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in 1999. Between 1999 and 2014, the social problem of LGBT asylum did not cease to evolve and be present in public arenas, through a stream of cases arising in the news, and

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Abstract only
Thibaut Raboin

Afterword This book started as a critical reflection on the multiplication of discourses on LGBT human rights and asylum. In a way, the original impulse was one of doubt: what are these discourses? Who produces them, and in which conditions? What are their consequences? Looking at the trajectory of many asylum cases in public arenas and at advocacy discourses, it became clear that many discourses talk about and in the name of that Other which is the LGBT asylum seeker. Voices of asylum seekers are simultaneously very present in public arenas, and very much

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Thibaut Raboin

2 Imagining a queer haven In case narratives, asylum enables the righting, here and now, of a wrong committed there and then. The narratives thus link homophobia as a global problem with hospitality as a domestic quandary. The problem of asylum shifts from being understood within the conceptual apparatus of human rights to being conceived of within the question of the hospitality of the state, and in particular of its asylum legislation. LGBT human rights perspectives used in asylum narratives rely in some respects on equivalence: forms of homophobia can be

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Thibaut Raboin

3 The biopolitics of recognition Homonationalist formulations of asylum indicate the possibility that the state is bound to appear to be proactive in creating conditions of fairness for LGBT asylum seekers. This chapter looks at the administrative management of asylum, and argues that there is a contradiction at the heart of the social problem of asylum: asylum discourses are based on a specific regime of justification, that of universalistic human rights, which are consistently negated by a tough practice of exclusion. This contradiction puts the state at risk

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Thibaut Raboin

4 Feelings of sympathy In the last two chapters of this book, I will investigate in detail the last aspect of my general argument about homonationalism, nationhood and neoliberalism. In the previous chapters, I focused to a certain extent on political rationality and the way debates shaped representations about the nation, sexuality and citizenship. Now, I propose to look at how political affect is central in the configuration of the effects of the social problem of LGBT asylum. This analysis is premised on the idea that the expression of social suffering is

in Discourses on LGBT asylum in the UK
Abstract only
Catherine Cox

7 Inside the asylums On 30 January 1857, a single woman entered Carlow asylum and was diagnosed as suffering from ‘mania’. She had become ill the previous November and the medical superintendent recorded that there was a history of insanity in her father’s family. Religion, and specifically the ‘late mission in the town’, was recorded as the exciting cause of illness. She was discharged in May 1858. Her recovery was accredited to the ‘general moral treatment of the establishment with attention to general health’.1 She had been prescribed sedatives and a robust

in Negotiating insanity in the southeast of Ireland, 1820–1900
Bryan Fanning

5 Refugees and asylum seekers Introduction This chapter examines how contemporary responses to refugees and asylum seekers in Ireland have been shaped by a legacy of exclusionary state practices and racism.1 As noted in the last chapter, this legacy included overt anti-Semitism within refugee and immigration practices from the late 1930s prior to Ireland’s ratification in 1956 of the UN Convention on Human Rights (1951). The arrival of increasing numbers of asylum seekers in recent years was met by expressions of racism and intolerance within Irish political

in Racism and social change in the Republic of Ireland