Hybrid seminar on Janna Wessels’ book ‘The Concealment Controversy. Sexual Orientation, Discretion Reasoning and the Scope of Refugee Protection’

Janna Wessels’ book The Concealment Controversy. Sexual Orientation, Discretion Reasoning and the Scope of Refugee Protection (Cambridge University Press, 2021) will be the subject of a hybrid online/on campus seminar at the Amsterdam Centre for Migration and Refugee Law at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on Thursday 17 March 2022, 10.00-11.00 AM Central European Time.

There will be contributions by Janna Wessels (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Michelle Foster (Melbourne Law School), Samuel Ballin (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), Jenni Millbank (University of Technology Sydney) and Thomas Spijkerboer (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).

About the book

The idea that a claim for international protection can be rejected on the basis that the claimant behave ‘discreetly’ in their country of origin has remained resilient in asylum claims based on sexual orientation, but also other grounds of claim. This is significant because requiring an asylum-seeker to forgo the reason for which they are persecuted questions the very rationale of refugee protection.

This book represents the first principled examination of concealment in refugee law. Janna Wessels connects the different strands of the long-standing debate in both common and civil law jurisdictions and scholarship concerning the question of whether and under which circumstances a claimant must conceal to avoid persecution. In so doing, Wessels uncovers a fundamental tension at the core of the refugee concept. By using sexuality as a lens, this study breaks new ground regarding sexual orientation claims and wider issues surrounding the refugee definition.


For registration, please send an email to secretariaat.sb.rch@vu.nl before 15 March 2022, and indicate whether you want to participate online or on campus.

The room at the VU campus can accommodate 30 persons. On 16 March we will send you an invitation to the online or the on campus event.