2022 LGBTQ+ Refugees and Immigrants Find Safe Haven in Canada


Marcia Barroso, Senior Communications Affiliate, WES

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LGBTQ+ individuals typically, and refugees particularly, proceed to face a heightened threat of violence, abuse, discrimination, and exploitation all over the world, in line with a brand new report by UNHCR.

As 2022 started, 89.3 million people worldwide remained displaced and stateless after having been pressured to flee their properties, in line with the newest International Traits report of the United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The report was revealed in June throughout Refugee Consciousness Month.

Right this moment, lethal conflicts, akin to these in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and sub-Saharan Africa, have introduced the variety of displaced people to the astounding milestone of greater than 100 million for the primary time on document.

Amongst them, thousands and thousands of LGBTQ+ refugees are vulnerable and marginalized. “Fleeing persecution and socio-economic exclusion, they typically reside in international locations that don’t present robust human rights protections or actively discriminate primarily based on sexual orientation and gender identification,” the UNHCR report famous.

The identical month as the discharge of the UNHCR report, the LGBTQ+ neighborhood lastly gathered at in-person occasions to have fun Delight month following a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The festivities resumed amid a resurgence of anti-gay prejudice that serves as a potent reminder of the threats dealing with LGBTQ+ individuals. For instance, Oslo cancelled its annual Delight Parade after a gunman opened hearth at a preferred LGBTQ+ nightclub, killing two individuals and leaving 21 others wounded in what Norwegian police known as an “act of terrorism.” Within the Republic of Türkiye (previously the Republic of Turkey), organizers of an LGBTQ+ Delight parade reported that the federal government had “declared conflict” on the neighborhood after it arrested nearly 400 people in Istanbul.

These occasions reinforce the UNHCR’s findings that LGBTQ+ individuals typically, and refugees particularly, proceed to face a heightened threat of violence, abuse, discrimination, and exploitation all over the world. To today, greater than 70 countries nonetheless criminalize consensual same-sex relationships between adults.

Escape Is the Solely Choice

Sitting on his condominium’s balcony with a surprising view of downtown Vancouver, the place he lives along with his husband, Matthew, and their French bulldog Freddie Potato, Danny Ramadan is multitasking between writing his subsequent e book and organizing his very busy schedule for the approaching months.

In Toronto, Farida Taher can also be juggling the planning for her upcoming vacation spot marriage ceremony and making preparations for a serious medical process that she’ll endure a couple of months earlier than the ceremony.

One other particular person busily planning is Mohamad Altasseh. Quickly the Ottawa resident might be travelling to Toronto for work. He’ll even be assembly some mates and spending time with a particular somebody throughout his go to.

Danny, Farida, and Mohamad’s on a regular basis lives are pretty unremarkable. However till a couple of years in the past, they might first want to make sure their security and freedom earlier than they may make any plans. As members of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood, all three had been pressured to flee their properties earlier than lastly settling in Canada. Danny, Farida, and Mohamad depend themselves fortunate to have been capable of escape and begin new lives. Many others haven’t been so lucky.

Danny 3

Danny Ramadan is multitasking between writing his subsequent books and organizing his very busy schedule for the approaching months.

LGBTQ+ Ukrainians looking for security in surrounding states have additionally met with prejudice, discrimination, and violence, in line with Dane Bland, director of growth and communications at Rainbow Railroad, a worldwide non-profit group working in six areas all over the world to relocate LGTBQ+ individuals.

“We’ve seen will increase [in] requests [for help] not simply from Ukraine, but additionally from Belarus, Romania, Poland, and within Russia too. The social crackdown that’s happening throughout that space due to the conflict has resulted in LGBTQ+ persecution,” Bland famous.

With world displacement on the rise, the Rainbow Railroad group has obtained greater than 5,000 requests for help because the starting of 2022.

Cultural and Spiritual Traditions Nonetheless Endanger LGBTQ+ Individuals

Homosexuality isn’t accepted in MENA countries, and it’s forbidden by legislation in all Center Jap international locations. Syria, Danny and Mohamad’s house nation, and Egypt, the place Farida is from, are two of those international locations.

“My father shoved the verses of the Qur’an down my throat at each nook,” Danny revealed in his 2017 TEDx presentation. He additionally shared that his father tried to have interaction him in “character-building actions” akin to aggressive sports activities and work at a building web site as a result of he suspected that Danny was homosexual.

After her household kicked her out of her house for popping out as LGBTQ+, Farida struggled to outlive. In the future she was attacked on the streets of Cairo and determined to reveal the violence skilled by LGBTQ+ individuals in Egypt on social media. Her posts introduced her to the eye of the police, who sought her arrest. Luckily, she managed to flee the nation.

In Syria, Danny was equally persecuted. Police dragged him from his condominium and held him in jail for six weeks till one in all his mates bribed the officers to set him free. Danny fled Syria shortly after his launch. To today, he doesn’t know why he was arrested.

“I’m from a Sunni Muslim household. My father has a Ph.D. in Islamic research and is taken into account a sheikh on the town,” stated Mohamad. Rising up in a small village outdoors Damascus, the place “everybody is aware of everybody,” he felt totally different and struggled to attach with individuals. “It was onerous as a result of I didn’t have a phrase to precise what I used to be going via, and nobody else may assist me both as a result of issues like homosexuality, homosexual, queer, had been and nonetheless are unstated in dominant Muslim cultures.”

LGBTQ+ Below Threats within the Caribbean and Latin America

Discrimination in opposition to LGBTQ+ individuals isn’t restricted to Muslim international locations and different conservative nations. 4 members of the neighborhood are murdered every day within the Caribbean and Latin America. Nine Caribbean countries criminalize same-sex relations, citing “gross indecency.”

“Over the course of our whole historical past [since 2006], the place the place Rainbow Railroad has obtained essentially the most requests for assistance is the Caribbean,” Bland stated.

Whereas at the moment not as fraught because the state of affairs within the Caribbean, situations are additionally worsening for LGBTQ+ individuals in South America.

With greater than 200 million inhabitants, Brazil is the area’s largest and most populous nation. Brazilians are identified for being welcoming and open-minded, attracting thousands and thousands of holiday makers to the nation yearly.

However violence within the nation has surged, due principally to the rise of a right-wing government identified for talking out in opposition to traditionally marginalized teams. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened the social and financial disaster within the nation, exposing LGBTQ+ people, women, Indigenous individuals, Black communities, individuals with disabilities, and low-income people to better persecution.

Lately, Brazil has held the ignominious distinction of being the LGBTQ+ “murder capital of the world,” regardless of the Brazilian Supreme Court docket’s banning violence and discrimination primarily based on sexual orientation and gender identification in 2019. A current spate of “barbaric” crimes concentrating on the LGBTQ+ neighborhood has sparked fears and made worldwide headlines.

“I lived in Sao Paulo for nearly 5 years. The variety of homophobic assaults reported then was mind-blowing. I used to be at all times afraid as a result of it was taking place whereas I used to be discovering that I favored women,” Milena Alvarenga recalled. When she moved to Canada as a global scholar in 2016, along with assembly her spouse, Lais Caldas – additionally from Brazil – each she and Lais discovered the security they longed for.

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Celio and his husband determined to maneuver to Canada. There, his dream of turning into an actor got here true, and he lately made his stage debut.

In Morro da Caixa d’Agua, located in Complexo da Penha, one of many largest favelas in Brazil, Celio de Andrade checked all of the “seen minority bins. “I’m black, homosexual, and from the favela,” he famous. “The system was not made to assist individuals like me to reach Brazil. It really works in opposition to me.”

Celio and his husband determined to maneuver to Canada. There, his dream of turning into an actor got here true, and he lately made his stage debut. “This has been one of the unimaginable experiences I’ve ever had,” he reported.

Freedom, Security, Love, and Artwork

Like Celio, the others—Danny, Milena, Farida, Lais, and Mohamad—additionally discovered an encouraging atmosphere in Canada to embrace their identities and share their tales via artwork.

Writing is how Mohamad has coped with traumatic reminiscences and developed a way of belonging and of wholesome relationships. “Storytelling for me is a device to heal, replicate, reconcile with the previous, protect my reminiscences, and share my tales with the world,” he stated.

Danny has grow to be a novelist in addition to a famend public speaker and LGBTQ+ refugee activist. His debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, and youngsters’s e book, Salma, the Syrian Chef, have received quite a few awards. Based on Danny, his subsequent novel, The Foghorn Echoes, comes out in August.

In September he’ll host “An Night in Damascus,” an annual fundraiser for a company that facilitates the resettlement of LGBTQ+ refugees from Syria to Canada. On his arm, he has tattooed 18 birds representing the individuals he has helped via the cash raised by the occasion.

“I really like this nation,” Danny proclaimed. “Take a look at the life I used to be supplied as a result of I labored onerous and who I’m. This place is house.”


. After being deserted by her household and compelled into hiding from Egyptian police, Farida has lastly discovered her place on this planet

It’s a heartfelt sentiment shared by Farida. After being deserted by her household and compelled into hiding from Egyptian police, Farida has lastly discovered her place on this planet, explaining that “house isn’t the place I used to be born. House is the place my rights are revered and the place I’m secure.”

And, as a result of she feels safe and settled in Canada, Farida will quickly embark on the largest change of her life. Earlier than tying the knot together with her longtime boyfriend in early 2023, she is going to endure gender confirmation surgery, a medical process that can align her physique together with her gender identification.

“Once I was residing in exile in Lebanon, I participated in workshops about gender and got here out as a trans lady. As soon as I discovered that I’m a lady, all the things began to make sense,” Farida stated.

Along with her upcoming surgical procedure and nuptials, she is going to attain her highest targets. “I’m so blissful and happy with myself,” Farida stated. “I’d by no means change something that occurred to me as a result of it led me to the place I’m proper now.”


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