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Title: Investigating the experiences of Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers and refugees who identify as gay men
Author: Higgins, Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 388X
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2011
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available