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Project Aims

‘SOGICA – Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Claims of Asylum: A European human rights challenge’ is a four-year project funded by a Starting Grant of the European Research Council (ERC). Based in the School of Law at the University of Sussex, it will produce the necessary evidence base for a more just and humane asylum process for individuals seeking refuge in Europe on the basis of their SOGI.

The project’s primary aims are to explore the social and legal experiences of SOGI asylum-seekers across Europe and to determine how European asylum systems can treat SOGI asylum claims more fairly. Besides exploring the European Union (EU) and Council of Europe (CoE) frameworks, SOGICA focuses on Germany, Italy and the UK as case studies. In relation to all these frameworks, the link between the legal and social experiences of SOGI asylum-seekers will be stressed.

The project’s value also lies in the methodology to be followed. The project adopts a comparative and empirical approach that is intersectional and interdisciplinary (socio-legal). As theoretical frameworks, it uses human rights, feminist and queer studies.

Considering the frequently unfair treatment of SOGI asylum claims, the disproportionately high refusal rate, and the particular difficulties in establishing SOGI claims (in particular concerning credibility, relocation and discretion), the project will answer the following questions:

  • How have European countries incorporated SOGI related human rights violations into asylum policies?
  • How do these violations constitute, and how are they seen to constitute, causes of asylum requests?
  • How are SOGI related asylum claims legally adjudicated at domestic, EU and CoE levels?
  • Does the legal adjudication of SOGI related asylum claims influence claimants’ identity and integration in the host society and community of fellow nationals/ethnic group? If so, how?
  • How can domestic, EU and CoE legal frameworks adjudicate SOGI related asylum claims more fairly?