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Seeking to increase analyses of how Brexit will affect lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, queer and other (LGBTIQ+) individuals, Dr Carmelo Danisi, Dr Moira Dustin and Professor Nuno Ferreira highlight the disproportionately detrimental impact leaving the EU could have both on the continuation of current legislation that protects LGBTIQ+ people and the future path of the UK post-Brexit in relation to furthering equality for LGBTIQ+ communities. Here’s what the article’s authors had to say…

To start our interview, we asked how the UK’s trajectory in relation to LGBTIQ+ rights may change post-Brexit, given, as argued by the writers, the  UK ‘will not be obliged’ to follow the path already mapped by the EU.

The background to the Queering Brexit article is also the background to the SOGICA research project. ‘SOGICA – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum: a European Human Rights Challenge’ is a four-year project looking at the treatment of LGBTIQ+ asylum seekers in Europe (www.sogica.org).

It was conceived as a project about the treatment – and differential treatment – of individuals who make asylum claims based on their sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) in EU member states.

When the idea for the project was conceived several years ago, there was no question in most people’s minds of the UK leaving the EU.

People working on asylum, sexual orientation and gender identity – whether in universities, NGOs, as grass-roots campaigners, lawyers or policy makers – saw the development of the Common European Asylum System as the basic framework and lever for challenge going forward.

We wondered how this plan was affected by the Brexit vote.

By the time the project had received funding and started we were in a different world– one in which the UK will be going it alone and eschewing the mechanisms, structures, policy and guidance that EU membership brings.

Of course, there are unlikely to be immediate changes: on the day after the UK leaves the EU (if that day happens), asylum seekers are unlikely to see a sudden change in the way their claims are processed.

But over the long term, in the coming years, LGBTIQ+ claimants are likely to need to rely on domestic UK law underpinned by the principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, but without the important framework provided by the European Union– a framework that covers not only asylum and LGBTIQ+ rights but other rights and provisions that will be of benefit to sexual minorities claiming asylum – provisions on integration, access to justice, family reunion, sexual violence and many others.

It has been identified that there was a lack of clarity of information prior to the referendum, and there is a great deal of confusion about how the process is currently playing out.

We asked the authors whether they think that all LGBTIQ+ individuals are aware of how Brexit could disproportionately affect them.

Our sense is that people aren’t aware – and how could they be? LGBTIQ+ individuals are not defined or self-defined only by their sexual orientation and gender identity.

They are also: black and Asian; migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; women; young and old; individuals with disabilities; people of faith or no faith; homeless; in poor health; unemployed; and/ or poor.

This is to name just some of the characteristics that determine how laws and policies impact on an individual who is also minoritised on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and therefore how Brexit will impact on such individuals.

No particular group defined by any of these given characteristics was completely informed about the potential impact of Brexit at the time of the referendum, nor are they necessarily now, so whatever may happen if or when Brexit may occur could be a painful surprise to any individual.

The authors have stated that they believe the EU is ‘viewed as ‘the’ sexual minorities’ champion’.

We wondered whether they think the Brexit vote, and the subsequent threat to this as a channel for progress, was and will be felt more personally by LGBTIQ+ individuals.

An interesting question: while we suggest in our piece that the EU is viewed as a champion of sexual minorities, the same could be said of the UK government.

Recent years have seen a number of measures put in place to promote the rights of LGBTIQ+ people– civil partnership and marriage laws, gender recognition legislation, and policies on hate crime to name just a few.

This leads to the question of how leaving the EU could affect the UK Government’s stance on LGBTIQ+ issues.

The problems here are two-fold (at least): firstly, while there is increasing recognition of LGBTIQ+ rights, this is accompanied by increasing hostility towards migrants and refugees, so those individuals marginalised on both grounds may find themselves falling awkwardly between different agendas.

The second problem is that without EU membership, the UK will not be supported and regulated by that legal framework.

If a future government decides to drop sexual orientation from employment protection, for example, there will be no recourse to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Similarly, if the EU makes progress on LGBTIQ+ asylum provisions, for example through new case law or through further directives on asylum or anti-discrimination, the UK is not likely to adopt those same standards. 

We wondered whether the article’s writers believe there is a best case scenario outcome for Brexit in terms of the protection and continuation of the work already done by the EU in relation to LGBTIQ+ rights.

The best case scenario, in the view of the authors, is that Brexit won’t happen.

That aside, the best that can be hoped for is that the UK continues to at least remain a part of the Council of Europe, regulated by the European Convention on Human Rights and decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights, rather than taking the path of a ‘British Bill of Rights’ to replace the current Human Rights Act that gives further effect to the Convention rights in UK law.

The huge work that Brexit requires of all Government departments seems to have put that Conservative Party manifesto commitment temporarily on the back-burner, but it is likely to resurface.

You take a sceptical view of how the UK, under the conservatives, will perform in relation to carrying on improvements for LGBTIQ+ individuals post-Brexit.

Through this you talk about the need to ‘step up the domestic fight and build new forums for international cooperation’. Are you aware of any existing channels that people can join in relation to this? 

The UK has already seen a significant rise in hate crime post-referendum. Interestingly, this has affected not only migrants and refugees, but also many LGBTIQ+ individuals.

While the UK has relatively strong equality law and an enforcement body to prevent discrimination and promote human rights in the form of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the driver for much of these measures was the EU.

EU bodies like the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) play an important part in developing guidance, good practice and awareness raising tools. Civil society organisations also work together across member states on equality and rights issues.

It is hoped that, at least for NGOs, these networks and working relationships will survive.

Bodies like the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), Rights in Exile, Transgender Europe (TGEU), LGBTI Africa and Rainbow Railroad will be more necessary than ever.

The authors highlight the ‘limited analysis’ that has been done so far in relation to how Brexit will affect LGBTIQ+ individuals. We wondered whether this something they hope to continue to build upon.

The impact of Brexit is so wide-ranging that there are many areas where the implications have not yet been considered and/or are unforeseeable.

This certainly includes the implications for LGBTIQ+ people– and not only in the area of asylum.

For this reason, two of the article’s authors– Nuno Ferreira and Moira Dustin– are working with Susan Millns, head of the Sussex Law School, on a project on gender and queer perspectives on Brexit.

The project includes an edited collection and special issue of a journal, both looking at the implications of Brexit from gender and queer perspectives to be published in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Our general sense is that gender and sexuality matters have been under-explored in the context of the Brexit debate.

Women and sexual minorities are likely to be affected by Brexit in specific ways, but the focus, certainly of politicians and media commentators, is almost exclusively on trade and immigration.

The SOGICA project is funded by the European Research based in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology.

Its team of four is currently carrying out the fieldwork for the project and invite people to sign up to our mailing list and find out how to get involved, which you can do at web address http://www.sogica.org/en/the-project/get-involved/).

The team are: Nuno Ferreira (principal investigator), who will be carrying out field work at European and international level; Carmelo Danisi, who is leading the Italian case study; Moira Dustin, who is carrying out the UK case study; and Nina Held, who is carrying out the German case study.

You can read “Queering Brexit” on Sussex Research Online.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Live Review: Temples @ Komedia
Arts
259 views
Arts
259 views

Live Review: Temples @ Komedia

leo2r - December 8, 2019

Words by Luke Edison   This Monday 2nd December, Komedia’s doors opened to Temples, a psychedelic rock band originating from Kettering, Northamptonshire. Having heard about their mesmerizing…

Sussex Ranger Takeover
News
119 views
News
119 views

Sussex Ranger Takeover

Rory Hinshelwood - December 5, 2019

By Rory Hinshelwood, Rosie Bettis, Zoe Taylor, and Max Morris-Edwards This week the team behind new-blog-on-the-block, Sussex Ranger hijack foodies focus to introduce their guide to student…

Should some reality TV shows be banned?
Comment
215 views
Comment
215 views

Should some reality TV shows be banned?

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

The Big Debate is a regular Badger feature which brings the spirit of competitive debating to the printed page. Two writers tackle a contentious topic, representing polarised…

Elitist campus accommodation
Comment
380 views
Comment
380 views

Elitist campus accommodation

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

By Eric Barrell With my tutors going on strike over casualisation and unequal pay, and my own struggles in cheap halls with near constant maintenance issues, I…

Let’s vote for manifestos, not idols
Comment
243 views
Comment
243 views

Let’s vote for manifestos, not idols

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

By Issy Anthony - Comment Sub-Editor I want us to question how we look at politicians, and more specifically, political leaders. This is the first election I…

Monitoring our monitors
Comment
412 views
Comment
412 views

Monitoring our monitors

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

Ruth Walters discusses the work of Sussex Sweatshop Free and their involvement with tech workers’ rights Sussex Sweatshop Free is a student-led campaign group working to raise…

Less work, more play: the 4 day week
Comment
322 views
Comment
322 views

Less work, more play: the 4 day week

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

By Will Day With Labour’s proposal to implement a four-day working week, the concept of working less for the same pay has been thrust into the public…

The knife crime crisis
Comment
179 views
Comment
179 views

The knife crime crisis

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

Joe Pearce discusses the ethical debate around ‘stop and searches’ Knife-crime is a sensitive topic, one often dividing opinion nationally. To combat gang-wars and possible intent to…

Bloodshed and tyranny in Colombia
Comment
432 views
Comment
432 views

Bloodshed and tyranny in Colombia

Rebecca Partos - December 4, 2019

By Laura Lucia Rodríguez Peña Colombia has a long history of war and conflict. Nevertheless, in 2016 the National Government signed a peace agreement with the biggest armed…

Authentic cities and towns in Japan
Culture
2814 views
Culture
2814 views

Authentic cities and towns in Japan

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Vanessa Hung Always popular with travellers, Japan is a country with world-class cities, stunning landscape, spectacular natural scenery. Whether you have been to Japan before; or…

The evolution of iPod
Culture
134 views
Culture
134 views

The evolution of iPod

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Josh Talbot In the modern age of streaming technology, it is hard to imagine a time where there wasn’t an exhaustive library of songs literally at…

Brighton international eats
Culture
718 views
Culture
718 views

Brighton international eats

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Maaya Takata From vegetarian or vegan restaurants to cosy cafes for afternoon tea, from casual brunch to fine dining, Brighton offers various types of places to…

What’s going on with Falmer Moat?
Culture
80 views
Culture
80 views

What’s going on with Falmer Moat?

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Alana Harris  As the observant amongst us will have seen, the previously empty moat surrounding Falmer square has been filled with water. Many may be intrigued…

Christmas in Brighton
Culture
63 views
Culture
63 views

Christmas in Brighton

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Cloe Grampa Christmas is just around the corner and it seems that everywhere is getting into the festive spirit, but if the fairy lights around town…

Campus under Siege: Hong Kong Universities become battlegrounds
Culture
458 views
Culture
458 views

Campus under Siege: Hong Kong Universities become battlegrounds

vanessahtl - December 3, 2019

By Charlotte Brill Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests are showing no sign of fatigue. Over the past few weeks, University campuses across the region have become the flashpoints…

The Largest Maternity Scandal in NHS History
News
87 views
News
87 views

The Largest Maternity Scandal in NHS History

Becca Bashford - December 2, 2019

  By Angel Woo, Staff Writer. An internal report leaked by The Independent has revealed that at least 42 babies and three mothers died at Shrewsbury and…