227 Views

Academic Armchair: Queering Brexit

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

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
252 views1
Campus News
252 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
58 views
Artist Focus
58 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
38 views
Interview
38 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
84 views
Arts
84 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
76 views
Arts
76 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
92 views
Arts
92 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
83 views
Artist Focus
83 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
71 views
Books
71 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
104 views
Science
104 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
145 views
News
145 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS
Comment
144 views
Comment
144 views

Why I’m Jewish AND I support BDS

Sarah McIntosh - May 2, 2018

The idea of a land where my religious identity is welcomed and where I feel safe to be myself and live in peace is a beautiful idea…

Student research happening at Sussex
Features
128 views
Features
128 views

Student research happening at Sussex

Nikolaos Manesis - May 1, 2018

(Image source: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikipedia) Another academic year is coming to a close and with it, the last edition of The Badger. To celebrate our last science…

Sussex Festival cancelled
Campus News
178 views
Campus News
178 views

Sussex Festival cancelled

Jordan Wright - April 30, 2018

The Students’ Union have cancelled their highly anticipated end-of-term event Sussex Festival: Desert Island Disco, which was due to begin on Saturday May 12th. The Students’ Union…

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event
Comment
198 views
Comment
198 views

Students’ Union President Gustafsson and Liberate the Debate respond to the cancelled event

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

These comment pieces represent the opinions of both the Students' Union and Liberate the Debate with regards to the  recent cancellation of the Society's freedom of speech…

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood
Artist Focus
132 views
Artist Focus
132 views

Artist Focus: Rory Hinshelwood

Louisa Hunt - April 25, 2018

Rory Hinshelwood studies Zoology with Spanish at Sussex. His brand is called Poplar St., at the moment the brand sell embroidered high-quality t-shirts. Rory works mostly in graphics…

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen
Artist Focus
97 views
Artist Focus
97 views

Artist Focus: Maayan Cohen

Emma Phillips - April 24, 2018

The Badger spoke with Sussex University’s Maayan Cohen about her creative workshop, ‘Bits and Pieces.’ Can you tell us a bit about Bits and Pieces- what’s the…

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review
Arts
107 views
Arts
107 views

Voodoo enthralls at The Old Market – review

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

As part of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Undisciplined, Voodoo comes to being as a collaboration between South East Dance and Project O. Project O brings artists Alexandrina…

Arts
110 views

Trial & error: Sex, sass and foolishness through dance

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - April 24, 2018

For the concluding show of South East Dance’s micro-festival, Double Bill brings two short performances to The Old Market’s stage: Comebacks I thought of later by Eleanor…

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review
Arts
168 views
Arts
168 views

An evening with Candoco Dance Company – review

Georgia Grace - April 24, 2018

Last week at the Attenborough Centre, the phenomenally unique and refreshing dance company Candoco brought to the stage a double bill of performances exploring identity, community and…

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome
Arts
164 views
Arts
164 views

Jake Bugg at Brighton Dome

Matthew Nicholls - April 19, 2018

Following the release of his Fourth Studio album ‘Hearts that Strain’ in September 2017, Jake Bugg decided he wanted an intimate tour, and that is exactly what…