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Studying in autumn 2020 during coronavirus

Tim Braimah

Research title

Sexual orientation as a refugee status: defining 'refugee' to include victims of same-sex persecution

Research summary

Tim Braimah - 242The research aims to provide reasons why sexual orientation should be considered a specific refugee status. Although sexual orientation is not included as grounds for claiming asylum under the Refugee Convention, it is now commonly held that lesbians and gay men can make their asylum claims under one of the existing grounds, in particular, the ground of membership of a particular social group.

While some lesbians and gay men have successfully claimed asylum utilizing some of the Refugee Convention grounds, in this thesis, I present arguments why utilizing these grounds are not an adequate way of dealing with claims based on sexual orientation.

This thesis dedicates much attention to the Refugee Convention ground of membership of a particular social group to show why lesbians and gay men are not a social group. I also present the development of refugee protection, particularly the drafting of the 1951 Refugee Convention, to consider whether sexual orientation was a topic of debate during its drafting.

The result of this particular examination shows that the omission of sexual orientation was a simple oversight. However, because the Refugee Convention was a response to Nazi atrocities, and same-sex oriented persons were victims of the Nazi regime; their subsequent omission can be seen as an act of discrimination.

The results of my research also show that even though same-sex oriented persons may utilize the Refugee Convention grounds of religion, political opinion, and membership of a particular social group, to file their asylum claims, these grounds are not adequate in dealing with refugee claims based on sexual orientation.


2012 - Master of Laws (Legal research)
Middlesex University, London

2010 - Master of Laws (LLM)
King's College, University of London

2009 - Bachelor of Laws (LLB)
University of Bedfordshire, Luton

Research interests

  • International Refugee Law
  • Asylum
  • Immigration
  • Human Rights

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