An estimated 653,000 migrants from Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union settled in the UK in the period 2004-2011, and about 80,000 of them have made Scotland their home (Vargas Silva 2013; Scottish Government 2012). This recent migration has been the object of a considerable amount of research. However, this work has either neglected the role of sexuality or focused on heterosexual families. The Intimate Migrations project addresses a significant gap in our knowledge by giving voice to LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual) migrants from the region.

Comparative research have highlighted significant differences within Europe in terms of policy and legislation towards LGB citizens: the UK is widely perceived as very liberal by European standards, while most countries from the post-socialist region are seen as ‘lagging behind’. It is often assumed that transnational migration can be liberating for LGB individuals moving towards more ‘tolerant’ societies. However, this assumption is yet to be empirically tested against migrants’ often complex motivations and experiences.

The project explores the role sexuality plays in motivations to migrate, experiences of migration and plans for long-term settlement. It aims to capture a diverse group of LGB migrants in terms of ethnicity, nationality, gender, class and migrant status, and explore how these factors may shape migrants’ experiences alongside sexuality. It investigates LGB migrants’ sense of security and belonging in home and host societies, and looks at how they construct their social networks and negotiate their multifaceted identities across them.

scotland%20mapA focus on Scotland provides a distinctive case owing to Scotland’s devolved government and specific demographic and socio-legal context within the UK. We envisage that the project’s findings will be of interest to both academic and non-academic stakeholders: within Scotland, we are working in partnership with voluntary sector organisations supporting migrant, minority ethnic and LGBT communities. The project will also generate insights that can help us better understand the phenomenon of intra-European LGB migration, potentially applicable to the UK and to other European countries.

The Study

Recognising that relatively little is known about the nature of East-West LGB migrations in Europe, this project addresses the following questions: What are the reasons for LGB people from Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union to migrate to Scotland? To what extent are decisions to migrate and migration trajectories influenced by migrants’ sexuality? … Continue reading The Study


The research will be carried out in various locations across Scotland and will be based on a range of qualitative methods. Data will be collected in two stages: STAGE 1 involves biographical interviews with LGB migrants to understand their backgrounds, their reasons for migration, experiences of migration and resettlement. It also utilises relational mapping to chart … Continue reading Stages


This project intends to engage and consult with a range of end users working with migrant, minority ethnic and LGBT communities, both in Scotland and beyond, in order to deliver expertise on intra-European LGB migration, identify gaps in service provision and facilitate communication across stakeholder communities. Engagement with stakeholders will be sustained through: the establishment … Continue reading Impact