LGBTQ2S+ group urges Canada to help resettle people trapped in their own country, including Afghanistan


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TORONTO — Now that the federal election campaign is over, it’s time for the government to get back to work, including refocusing on international aid and building partnerships with humanitarian organizations.

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Among those organizations is Rainbow Railroad, an international charity based in Canada that provides pathways to safety for persecuted members of the LGBTQ2S+ community around the world.

With three of his ministers lost on election day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be forced to reshuffle his cabinet, which is expected to be followed by new mandates issued to each ministry.


The Rainbow Railroad is pushing for the next letter sent to the immigration minister to include a mandate to establish a refugee stream for internally displaced members of the international LGBTQ2S+ community.

“We have long been making the case for this government and all lawmakers that LGBTQI+ people are uniquely vulnerable in their countries of oppression,” Kimahly Powell, executive director of the Rainbow Railroad, told on Tuesday. “There are 70 countries that criminal same-sex intimacy, and those conditions create a really dangerous context for this community.”

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Many countries have also criminalized the expression and gender identity of transgender people and the sexual characteristics of intersex people.

are over there 84 million people According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, around the world those who have been displaced from their homes for a variety of reasons, including armed conflict, persecution, famine or other disasters. About this Half of them are “internally” displaced, which means they have been displaced from their homes but have not crossed the international border to seek asylum.

Although there are programs such as Rainbow Refugee Aid Partnership, which provides resettlement assistance to LGBTQ2S+ refugees who are able to flee their country, there are still many “who, because of persecution, state-sponsored conflict, or homosexuality, cannot cross land borders,” says Powell. he said.

“Rainbow Railroad makes about three to four thousand requests per year, and the vast majority who come to us for help are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs),” he said. “This policy will allow us to identify people at serious risk who need support, because if the Canadian government really wants to be a leader in LGBTQI+ rights on a global scale, the needs of this population will be It’s important to understand.”

Asked why current resettlement programs require refugees to flee their country first, the Canadian Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship told “A legal framework enabling the systematic and ongoing resettlement of IDPs The framework does not currently exist under the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act. Canada’s resettlement program is aligned with international practices that focus on the resettlement of refugees outside their home country. By definition, in international and domestic law, A refugee must be outside his country of origin or habitual residence.”

Rainbow Railroad has introduced three recommendations To enable the resettlement of internally displaced LGBTQ2S+ people for the federal government.

The first is to make it part of the next immigration minister’s mandate to implement a dedicated resettlement stream for internally displaced LGBTQ2S+ people, including a crisis response plan for those who need immediate help in emergency situations. is required.

“Afghanistan is a perfect example of why we need a crisis response plan,” Powell said. there has been Reports of violence against the LGBTQ2S+ community Members say they are now being hunted because the Taliban have taken control of the country. “We had requests for help before the fall of Kabul.”

Between the fall of the capital and the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan on August 31, the Rainbow Railroad provided aid to 200 people who were seeking evacuation. Powell said that number has since grown to 700.

“We are actively working with other NGOs in Afghanistan to identify those at risk, provide immediate assistance to those at risk and provide evacuation assistance,” he said.

The second recommendation made by the organization is to expand existing policy mechanisms to support displaced people and refugees, including prioritizing LGBTQ2S+ asylum seekers. For example, Powell said the government could expand immediate protection program, which accelerates the resettlement process for refugees whose lives are in immediate danger, who are internally displaced, as the program currently only applies to those who have crossed an international border.

The government could issue more “temporary residence permits, or the new minister should exercise his authority to help people in Canada,” he said. “Those are all the tools that the Canadian government has at their disposal right now.”

The immigration ministry acknowledged the existence of mechanisms to help the internally displaced population in emergencies.

The ministry cited a temporary humanitarian policy created in 2017 to resettle ISIS survivors, “as a life-saving measure, to respond to the unique circumstances faced by a specific population.” A public policy may be put in place to enable the rehabilitation of IDPs in the IDPs.” , especially women and children in northern Iraq. “While there is no systematic or ongoing rehabilitation of IDPs, the Government of Canada currently provides support to IDPs, usually through development programs that are funded through Global Affairs Canada.”

The third recommendation made by Rainbow Railroad is to establish a formal partnership with Rainbow Railroad to support the identification, processing and resettlement of LGBTQ2S+ refugees.

“We are already working to identify those at high risk,” Powell said. “We also have equipment to assist with evacuation efforts.”

Powell hopes the new government will be receptive to her organization’s recommendations and ready to work together to provide protection for displaced and persecuted members of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“One thing that was encouraging is that all parties are committed to supporting LGBTQI+ refugees and individuals to some degree,” he said of the latest federal election campaign. “We have clear expectations of what the next government needs to do, and we intend to work with the government and hold them accountable for supporting LGBTQI+ displaced people.”

With files from author Kristi Somos


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