Keith Southam


Asylum law provides an area within immigration law that is unexpectedly friendly to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons. Persons who suffer persecution on account of "membership in a particular social group" are eligible to live and work in the United States. This encompasses lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender persons who suffer persecution. However, United States law does not clearly define applicable standards in this area. As a result, different adjudicators in the asylum process focus on different methodological approaches and sometimes inject bias into the process. In addition, because the terms "lesbian," "gay," "bisexual," and "transgender" are tied to U.S. culture, asylum seekers from other countries often do not fit within these categories. This Note proposes that practitioners craft their asylum applications with an eye to these considerations. Specifically, this Note proposes that practitioners file asylum applications which use both status and conduct descriptors and which highlight relevant cultural differences.