Not Gay Enough: Sexuality, Gender and Homonationalism in the Dutch Asylum Procedure
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The Netherlands represents itself as a safe and accepting country for members of the LGBT community (Wekker 2016, 108). One way in which the Netherlands does this is through allowing people to seek refuge in the Netherlands on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The IND (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) has created a document that the IND employees can use as a direction for interviewing a person about the credibility of their sexuality or gender identity. While the IND claims to be an ‘open organisation’ (IND, n.d.) because it has published these work instructions online, the work instructions actually conceal certain hierarchical power dynamics between the IND and the person seeking asylum. In this thesis, I analyse how the IND work instructions as part of the LGBT asylum procedure enact a homonationalist discourse. By conducting a discourse analysis of the IND work instructions I show that there is an ideology of objectivity at the basis of this document. This ideology of objectivity constructs the IND’s position as innocent and the person seeking asylum as biased and subjective. The construction of a position of innocence through an ideology of objectivity form the conditions for the creation of a Subaltern position. In addition to this, the desire for innocence and objectivity enforce a homonationalist dynamic, in which the Self (the Netherlands) is represented as tolerant and progressive, while the Other (the countries that the people seeking asylum come from) is constructed as backwards and oppressive. This is a process of othering in which the Netherlands differentiates itself from the (often Islamic, Eastern European and/or black) Other through the temporary acceptance of certain homosexual bodies into the nationalist imaginary. This process is what Jasbir Puar calls homonationalism. I argue that the desire for objectivity and innocence that cause me to interpret the LGBT asylum procedure as a homonationalist structure, is a significant part of the reason why the IND reject many of the people seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.