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53 McGill L. J. 59 (2008)
Patrolling the Borders of Sexual Orientation: Bisexual Refugee Claims in Canada

handle is hein.journals/mcgil53 and id is 65 raw text is: Patrolling the Borders of Sexual Orientation:
Bisexual Refugee Claims in Canada
Sean Rehaag*

Canada's current definition of a refugee includes
those  facing  persecution  on  account of sexual
orientation. This article demonstrates that the success
rates for sexual-minority refugee claims are similar to the
success rates for traditional refugee claims. However,
one subset of sexual-minority refugee claimants, those
alleging a fear of persecution on account of bisexuality,
is far less successful.
The author contends that a major cause of the
difficulties bisexual refugee claimants encounter is the
dominant understanding of sexual orientation as an
innate and immutable personal characteristic. This view
of sexual orientation underlies contemporary Canadian
sexual-minority refugee law. The life experiences of
many bisexual asylum seekers, however, cannot be
easily located within such an understanding. This leads
many refugee adjudicators to approach accounts of
bisexual life narratives with skepticism.
Drawing from the tradition of queer theory, the
author concludes that refugee adjudicators should
embrace   an  alternative  understanding  of sexual
orientation that can accommodate a multitude of sexual-
minority life stories. This understanding views sexual
orientation as flexible and fluid. The author presents
specific ways in which such an understanding may be
applied to decision making regarding sexual-minority
refugee claims. All encourage decision makers to focus
not on the sexual identity of claimants but rather on
evidence of their persecution on account of traditional
gender roles and compulsory heterosexuality.

Au Canada, la definition d'un rrfugi6 inclut ceux
faisant face A la persecution en raison de leur orientation
sexuelle. Cet article damontre que les taux de succrs
pour ces demandes sont similaires aux taux des
demandes ordinaires de statut de rrfugi6. Nranmoins,
une sous-catrgorie de demandes d'asile provenant de
minoritrs sexuelles, celles fondaes sur la crainte d'etre
persecut6 en raison de la bisexualit6, ont beaucoup
moins de chance d'etre accueillies favorablement.
L'auteur soutient que les difficultrs auxquelles font
face les demandeurs de statut de rrfugi bisexuels
rrsultent en grande partie de l'idre pr&lominante parmi
les arbitres selon laquelle l'orientation sexuelle est innre
et est un trait de caractre immuable. Cette vision de
l'orientation  sexuelle sous-tend  le droit canadien
contemporain de l'immigration des minoritLs sexuelles.
Les experiences de vie vrcues par plusieurs de ces
personnes bisexuelles sont toutefois  difflicilement
comprrhensibles selon cette conception. La situation
mane plusieurs arbitres A faire preuve de scepticisme
envers les recits de vie des personnes bisexuelles.
S'inspirant de la <,th6orie queer>, l'auteur conclut
que, dans le contexte du droit de l'immigration, les
arbitres devraient adopter une conception alternative de
l'orientation sexuelle qui serait en mesure d'accueillir
une multitude de r6cits de vie des minorit~s sexuelles.
Cette conception caract~iserait l'orientation sexuelle
comme flexible et fluide. L'auteur pr~sente des moyens
sp6cifiques d'appliquer cette conception aux d6cisions
quant aux demandes de statut de r6fugi venant de
minorit6s sexuelles. Totes ces m6thodes encouragent
les arbitres A mettre l'accent non pas sur l'identit6
sexuelles des demandeurs mais plut6t sur la preuve de
leur pers6cution en raison de r6les traditionnels attribu6s
aux sexes et d'une h6t~rosexualit& obligatoire.

* Sean Rehaag, B.C.L., LL.B (McGill), SJ.D. Candidate (Toronto). This article was written while I
was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies of the University of California,
Hastings College of the Law, and at the Canada Research Chair on International Migration Law,
Universit6 de Montreal. I would like to thank Frangois Cr~peau, Evan Fox-Decent, Ummni Khan,
Julie Lassonde, Robert Leckey, Nicole LaViolette, Audrey Macklin, Viviane Namaste, B.J. Wray, and
the anonymous reviewers at the McGill Law Journal for their helpful comments and suggestions.
© Sean Rehaag 2008
To be cited as: (2008) 53 McGill L.J. 59
Mode de rrfrrence : (2008) 53 R.D. McGill 59

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