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Title: Sexuality, Migration, and Race. Tensions in the Politics of Rights.

Date and Time: March 21st. 3pm-5pm


Location:
Manchester Metropolitan University
Business School, M15 6BH
Room BS 3.20 (N Atrium)

You are cordially invited to attend this event, which will present current research into
the intersections of discourses on sexuality, race/ethnicity and the law. The main focus
is on problematic assumptions which guide the construction of ‘LGBT subjectivities’ in
legal processes that have been designed in laws meant to ‘protect’ people with non-
normative genders or sexualities from persecution and hate crimes. Topics discussed at
the event will include discussions of asylum process (in the UK and beyond) and hate
crime legislation in Catalonia. The focus is on tensions, paradoxes, limitations and gaps
in the construction of ‘rights’ and other legal measures, which create systemic
exclusions that narrow how queer lives can be lived, articulated and understood, often
with deadly consequences for some groups concerned.

There will be three 20 minutes presentations followed by Questions and Answers and a
Discussion.

 CHRISTIAN KLESSE (Manchester Met) ‘Bisexuality, Asylum Law and the Biopolitics
of “Bisexual Erasure”’.

 KAREN McCARTHY (Manchester Met) ‘When I was an asylum seeker I was in


bondage. I was captive. Something is holding you and want to strangle you to
death’

 NÚRIA SADURNÍ (University of Girona, Catalonia), ‘Queer necropolitics and the


Catalan law against LGBTphobia’
The discussion will be moderated by Dr Suryia Nayak (School of Health and Society,
University of Salford).
Attendance is free of charge. Tea, Coffee and Sandwiches will be provided. The event
has been sponsored by RAH! (Research in the Arts and Humanities! Manchester
Metropolitan University).

Abstracts and Bios


CHRISTIAN KLESSE
“Bisexuality, Asylum Law and the Biopolitics of ‘Bisexual Erasure’”

Christian Klesse (Manchester Metropolitan University)


Research into asylum case law in many countries (including the USA, Canada, Australia,
New Zealand and the UK) suggests that bisexuals are at serious risk of having their claims
dismissed, because their stories and identities are cast as non-plausible or non-
consequential. The legal claims of non-heterosexual applicants have been meet with
ignorance and excessive scrutiny in the legal apparatus of many countries for a very long
time. While positive case decisions of gay male and lesbian claimants are increasing in
some jurisdictions, bisexuals are still likely to find their claims on the grounds of
persecution because of their sexuality rejected. While the “discretion requirement”, i.e.
the expectation that lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans* applicants have to live “discrete”
lives (or, in other words, to “stay in the closet”) to prevent persecution, has been
successfully challenged in many jurisdictions, bisexuals are still alleged to being able to
“pass” without hassle, if they only entered heterosexual relations. Bisexual claimants
often find it impossible to prove their membership in a ‘particular social group’. The
fluidity bound up with bisexuality and the lack of acceptance for bisexual identities is at
odds with the ‘immutability’ assumption of sexual orientation models. The common
discrimination of bisexuals in asylum law is a direct outflow of what Kenji Yoshino calls
the ‘epistemic contract of bisexual erasure’. The hurdles against making bisexual
experience intelligible in the field of law and against materialising a right for asylum for
bisexual claimants is part and parcel of the regulation of the sexuality of migrants’ bodies
through biopolitical acts of government with all too often necropolitical consequences.
Biographical Note

Christian Klesse is Reader in the Department of Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan


University. His research interests include the politics of bisexuality, non-monogamy
and polyamory; race/ethnicity and racism, and transnational activism around gender
and sexual politics. He is the author of The Spectre of Promiscuity: Gay Male and
Bisexual Non-Monogamies and Polyamories (Routledge) and co-author of
Heteronormativität: Empirische Studien zu Geschlecht, Sexualität und Macht
(Heteronormativity: Empirical Studies of Gender, Sexuality and Power) (VS Verlag). His
work has been published in a number of journals including Body and Society, The
European Journal of Women’s Studies, The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies,
Sexualities, Sociology, and The Sociological Review.

KAREN McCARTHY
“When I was an asylum seeker I was in bondage. I was captive. Something is holding
you and want to strangle you to death”
To win recognition as a refugee and become 'documented' most people seeking asylum
on the grounds of their sexuality, and persecution because of it, have to fight for
recognition of their sexuality first. ‘Proving’ sexuality is key, with the majority of
sexuality based cases refused on credibility, i.e. that the claimant is not believed; the
incidence of disbelief has increased since case law in 2009 limited the ability of courts
to send people recognised as LGBT back to their countries of origin to live ’discretely’.
The experience of the Lesbian Immigration Support Group members and volunteers is
that claimants feel pressured to conform to Western, racialized, homonormative
notions of what lesbian sexuality looks like, having spent most of their lives ‘pretending'
NOT to be lesbian, for their own safety. Most members of LISG are escaping from, often
extremely violent, persecution in countries which were once British colonies and where
British imposed, homophobic laws still exist. The impact of this colonial , and continuing,
biopolitical governance creates a legacy of necropolitical results both in the UK and
globally. “and I don’t give a shit about HO and they can’t change that and they can’t
force me to do things. I have a partner and a life and a family, and people who know
that. What do they want?”

Biographical Note
Karen McCarthy is a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her research
interests include migration, asylum and sexuality; migration and immigration; the
experience of refugees and asylum seekers in further and higher education; reflective
practice and well-being and health in communities. She is the co-author of Nina Held /
Karen McCarthy (2017, forthcoming): “They like you to pretend to be something you are
not”: An exploration of working with the intersections of gender, sexuality, ‘race’,
religion and ‘refugeeness’, through the experience of Lesbian Immigration Support
Group (LISG) members and volunteers, in Nayak, Suryia/ Robbins, Rachel (eds.) The
Activism of Intersectionality in Social Work. London: Routledge. Also, forthcoming co-
author with Janet Batsleer of On the Future of Youth Work with Young Women in Youth
Work: Global Futures. Rotterdam: Sense Publications. (forthcoming)

NÚRIA SADURNÍ
Queer necropolitics and the Catalan law against LGBTphobia
The folding back of certain queer subjects into life and its effects is an issue which has
been addressed by a myriad of scholars. From Lisa Duggan’s notion of homonormativity
to more recent work on homonationalism building on Jasbir Puar’s work, many
analytical tools have been developed to interrogate how the supposed queer inclusion
has taken place and which are the consequences of such a biopolitical movement.
Throughout Europe and North America, current debates on queer issues are moving
towards the framework of hate crimes and hate speech, frequently engaging in
necropolitical logics. Such movement is also gaining momentum in the Catalan queer
arena, where a comprehensive law on LGBTIphobia was passed in 2014. The analysis of
the aforementioned law, within the context of this broader trend, arises several
questions that this paper aims to address: What kind of life does the Catalan law
produce? What kind of life does it reinforce? What life does it create for queer people?
In this movement, what changes and what remains? Which exclusions does it generate?
And, finally, does it produce death, either deferred or directly?
Bio
Núria Sadurní is a lesbofeminist activist and a PhD student on social psychology at the
University of Girona (Catalonia). In her PhD research she interrogates queer inclusions
in Catalonia, particularly focusing in biopolitics, queer necropolitics and
homonationalism.