Mapping Homo/Transphobia

The Valorization of the LGBT Protection Category in the Refugee-Granting System


  • Calogero Giametta Laboratoire de Sociologie (LAMES), Aix-Marseille University
  • Shira Havkin Institut Convergences Migration



LGBT, refugees, asylum seekers, asylum system, map of homophobia


A burgeoning interest in lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) rights has been noted to raise among the ‘temples of global capitalism’ (Rao 2015) such as the World Bank, governments and supranational institutions such as the EU Parliament dealing with the allocation of monetary funding (Browne et al. 2015), as well as within the corporate world at a global scale. The LGBT acronym thus gains new meanings, as it is used and valorised by capital institutions and corporations. Importantly, the re-signification of the LGBT category has also occurred within the system of international protection and immigration policies at a time of strong immigration restrictions. In this article, we examine how neoliberalism reshapes the LGBT signifier as a valorized protection category by looking at the case of asylum for gender and sexual minorities within EU geopolitics. By analysing the French asylum system, we want to address the question of why and how refugee-granting processes erase or flatten locally-situated queer histories, experiences and social worlds. We argue that it is important to move away from an analysis aimed at reinforcing the ‘sexual democratic’ values of some countries versus what is cast as the ‘cultural homo/transphobia’ of others. Through a particular attention to the mapping of homophobia, the article will aim to unpack how queer asylum claimants are situated in a giuridico-legal interstice from which they cannot challenge a colonial structure of thought about the schematic geography of homo/transphobia.

Author Biographies

Calogero Giametta, Laboratoire de Sociologie (LAMES), Aix-Marseille University

Calogero Giametta is a sociologist with a research focus on gender, sexuality and the political economy of migration. He is affiliated to the Laboratoire de Sociologie (LAMES) of Aix-Marseille University. His work to date has specifically analyzed migrant sex work, the right of asylum for LGBTQ people, and anti-human trafficking interventions in western Europe. Between 2016 and 2020, he was a research fellow within the ERC-funded project ‘Sexual Humanitarianism: Migration, Sex Work and Trafficking’, Kingston University, London (in partnership with Aix-Marseille University). He is the author of the book The Sexual Politics of Asylum (Routledge, 2017).

Shira Havkin, Institut Convergences Migration

Shira Havkin is a political sociologist with a research focus on the sociology of the state, migration and border control. Her work to date has specifically focused on the political history of the Israeli asylum system and the privatization of Israeli checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories. In 2018 she was a post-doc for a research project funded by the Défenseur des Droits in France: ‘Right of Asylum for Sexual Minorities: How to Construct the Proof of Intimacy’. She is a research fellow within the ICM – Institut Convergences Migration and holds a Phd from Sciences Po Paris.


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How to Cite

Giametta, C., & Havkin, S. (2020). Mapping Homo/Transphobia: The Valorization of the LGBT Protection Category in the Refugee-Granting System. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(1), 99–119.