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The Genesis of the Category of “LGBT Refugee” Within the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Québec | 2021 | p.9-19
ISSN 1923-919X (numérique)
Ahmed Hamila
Corporate author: 
Alterstice (International Journal of Intercultural Research)
Europe and North America


The international protection system is governed by the Geneva Convention of 1951, supplemented by the New York Protocol of 1967. These international conventions list five grounds for granting refugee status: persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a certain social group, and political opinions. These international instruments do not explicitly recognize persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for granting refugee status. However, over the past three decades, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has come to recognize such persecution as grounds for granting international protection. In this article, I focus on the genesis of the "LGBT refugee" category within the UNHCR in the early 2000s. The essay argue that the emergence of this new category of refugees is part of two parallel dynamics, which both led to the development of the UNHCR Guidelines, which explicitly recognize persecution based on sexual orientation as a ground for granting refugee status. On the one hand, it is in the context of greater attention paid to refugee women, and in particular to gender-related persecutions, that persecutions related to sexual orientation are for the first time discussed. On the other hand, the category of “LGBT refugee” also appears in the context of the interpretation of the notion of “belonging to a certain social group”.



Resource Type: 
Research papers / journal articles
Civic / Citizenship / Democracy
Human rights
Globalisation and social justice / International understanding
Diversity / cultural literacy / inclusive
Level of education: