Invesigating the experiences of Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees who identify as gay men

Prof Doc Thesis

Higgins, Stephen 2011. Invesigating the experiences of Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees who identify as gay men. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsHiggins, Stephen
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Humanitarian and legal organisations have led the interest in supporting women
and men fleeing persecution on the grounds of their sexual identity. Such
organisations have focused on human rights abuses, reasons for fleeing, the
journey into exile and a particular focus on the social and legal aspects of
applying for asylum. There has been little research into the experiences of
women and men fleeing from persecution of their sexual or gender identity. From
the literature, it is evident that the resettlement issues for women and men fleeing
homophobic persecution in the UK are not well understood. It is not clear how
they adapt to living in the UK and whether their sexuality continues to play a
relevant role.
The aim of this study was to explore the issues of resettlement within the context
of a specific cultural group. Eight men from Iraqi and Iranian backgrounds who
self-identified as gay men and who had sought asylum in the UK because of
persecution of their sexuality were interviewed. Thematic analysis within a
critical-realist epistemology was undertaken to analyse the interviews for shared
and distinct themes.
Three main themes and 10 sub-themes were identified representing the
participants' experiences, with themselves, in their relations with others around
them, and in trying to find a safe, social place. The analysis suggested that the
men were not mere passive recipients of an asylum process but that they strove
to cope and manage their circumstances, given their resources, and were
attempting to build new lives for themselves.
The analysis and findings are discussed with reference to theories of sexual
identity formation and resettlement acculturation. A critique of the study and
recommendations for further research and approaches that move beyond
symptom-oriented therapies are offered. Ways aiming to bolster the development
of 'grass-roots' resilience and the indirect roles of psychologists in promoting
human rights within organisations responsible for supporting women and men
seeking asylum are discussed. Areas of further research that might directly
benefit women and men fleeing anti-gay persecution are outlined.

Publication dates
PrintNov 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Jan 2014
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