Accepted paper:

"Never apologise for who you are!" Narratives of resistance and resilience from LGBTQ+ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers living in South Africa

Authors:

John Marnell (University of the Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates how various forms of structural and interpersonal violence shape the experiences of LGBTQ+ migrants, and sheds light on the ways in which these individuals navigate landscapes of abandonment, negotiate violent state structures and confront everyday discrimination.

Paper long abstract:

South Africa remains the only state on the African continent to offer asylum to individuals facing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The country's progressive legal framework and nominal acceptance of sexual and gender rights has led to a widespread misperception - particularly in other parts of the globe - that it offers a safe haven for LGBTQ+ persons seeking protection. However, the everyday realities of LGBTQ+ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers paint a very different picture. Drawing on a number of participatory studies, this paper challenges popular discourses about South Africa's role as a defender of LGBTQ+ rights. It shows how various forms of structural and interpersonal violence shape the experiences of LGBTQ+ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. In particular, it explores how heteronormative discourses drive exclusionary practices, inform contemporary constructions of citizenship and relegate unwelcome/disruptive bodies to a liminal state of existence. By analysing a range of creative artefacts, the paper sheds light on the ways in which LGBTQ+ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers navigate landscapes of abandonment, negotiate violent state structures and confront everyday discrimination. It also points to the myriad ways in which LGBTQ+ migrants, refugees and asylum seekers resist hetero-patriarchal norms and forge identities within contexts of violence. Finally, the paper investigates some of the ethical and methodological tensions associated with participatory research and reflects on the benefits of co-creating knowledge with stigmatised populations.

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Stream:
Social Anthropology
Crossing boundaries, crossing borders: subversion, disruption and LGBTQ migration on the African continent