Gender & Sexuality Cluster (GSC)


The GSC of the RRN, with its base at the Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS), York University, Toronto, Canada, began in 2008 with the aim of addressing the often neglected issues of gender and sexuality in the context of forced migration. The first phase (2008 – 2013) focused on strengthening the connections among the RRN membership in relation to the Cluster’s goals. Working relationships were established with a number of scholars in Toronto, Canada, and around the world; and an annotated bibliography LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Refugees and Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity Asylum was released in April 2011 (LINK). In addition, Osgoode Law School at York University hosted a number of events highlighting issues related to LGBT asylum (see below). As well, a working relationship was established with colleagues at the Refugee Law Project (RLP) at Makerere University in Uganda that culminated in the creation and dissemination of a body of scholarly and legal research that is now being used by those at the RLP. (,

The second phase of the GSC (2014 – 2016) will emphasize issues of gender and equity in the context of forced migration. The work that is now proposed builds upon the earlier research tools, such as the annotated bibliography to include research on two specific themes: Gender Relations in the Context of Forced Migration and the Impacts of Ideologies of Masculinity and Femininity in Access to Education for Refugees. We also have as an aim to explore/establish links with the Gender and Equity Committee (GEC) of the Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) Project ( We will be looking at ways in which the Cluster, GEC, and BHER can benefit from the research and work undertaken by each respectively. Furthermore, in the spring of 2014 we will be hosting two research discussion fora through the RRN webpage with the content from these archived on the site. Based on the success of the two fora, other such online discussions will be planned. Finally, we are planning to write two annotated bibliographies: first on issues of Gender and Forced Migration, and second on Ideologies of Masculinity and Femininity in the Context of Forced Migration. The former will be released in the spring and the latter in the summer 2014.


Core Faculty Members

  • Wenona Giles

Resident Faculty, Centre for Refugee Studies, and Director, Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) project
Professor, Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto, Canada
Primary website:
Secondary website:

  • Amani El Jack

Assistant Professor, Women’s Studies, College of Liberal Arts, McCormack Graduate School, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

  • Jennifer Hyndman (Phase 1)

Director, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada
Professor, Department of Social Science and Geography, York University

  • Sean Rehaag (Phase 1)

Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Canada

Core Student Members

  • Marta Bak

MA Candidate, Social Anthropology, York University, Toronto, Canada

Research Projects

GSC Phase One (2008 – 2013)

The principal aims of the first phase were to deepen the networks of scholarship at and between York and other universities on asylum and sexual minority status (see below). The two major partners were the Refugee Law Project (RLP) at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and the Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, Toronto, Canada. Collaboration with colleagues at the RLP was crucial as their research and work takes place in a highly discriminatory state that produces many sexual minority claimants. GSC’s partnership with RLP saw the dissemination of research on sexual minority status refugees in Uganda along with an annotated bibliography (see below under Publications). Osgoode Hall Law School hosted an event to raise awareness of LGBT human rights violation and persecution in the context of forced migration and asylum (see below under Conference Organization and Participation). This project aimed to procure and consolidate scholarship to date on those asylum seekers and refugees whose claims are based on persecution related to their lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender status. Sexual minority status does not include transgender persons, so the latter term is preferable.

Project 1: Strengthening Sexual Minority Refugee Research, aka LGBT Rights and Asylum

GSC Phase Two (2014 – 2016)

The current phase will centre largely on strengthening the understanding of issues of gender and equity and its impacts on and within the context of forced migration. Consequently, we hope to investigate the influence and effects of gender ideologies of femininity and masculinity in access to education, especially within the framework of the BHER Project. The ultimate objective is to draw on the work of BHER to link the Project to the Cluster.

Project 1: Gender & Equity in the Context of Forced Migration

Project 2: Impacts of Ideologies of Masculinity and Femininity in Access to Education

Publications and Research Resources

Coming Soon