TORONTO, June 18, 2018 /CNW/ - Rainbow Railroad supports any move to increase the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) refugees accepted every year into Canada, to give as many people as possible a chance at freedom.
Executive director Kimahli Powell says it is critical that governments adequately resettle refugees while recognizing the specific needs of LGBTQI asylum-seekers.
"This Wednesday, June 20, is World Refugee Day, a chance to put the spotlight on the global refugee crisis, and remember that LGBTQI refugees are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse," says Powell.
Rainbow Railroad has helped 450 LGBTQI people in dangerous situations find safety since it was founded in 2006. So far this year, we helped 100 people escape to freedom. Many of these individuals do not end up going to Canada. As the debate rages on how Canada should receive LGTBQI refugees, Powell, along with a national coalition of groups settling queer newcomers into Canada, call on the government to do more, and do it faster.
There is currently a backlog of private refugee sponsorships, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada estimates a 23-month wait before visas are processed.
Rainbow Railroad's outreach is not limited to Canada. Just recently, Powell and a survivor of the abuse in Chechnya travelled to the United States for meetings with White House and State Department officials. This World Refugee Day, Rainbow Railroad is partnering with Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the largest American LGBTQI rights organizations for a Twitter takeover featuring Powell.
"HRC are leaders in the global fight for LGBTQ equality," he says. "We're proud to be teaming up with them to help lift up the voices of LGBTQI refugees."
In addition to taking over HRC's Twitter account on June 20, we will also be highlighting stories of courage by LGBTQI asylum-seekers that we have helped escape persecution and violence.
"It's fitting that World Refugee Day falls during Pride Month," Powell says. "LGBTQI asylum seekers are often forced to flee their home, family and country because of who they are and who they love."
Rainbow Railroad received 1,200 requests for help last year from LGBTQI people in desperate situations who face immediate danger.
In 2017, Rainbow Railroad found a path to safety for 206 people.
In 72 countries, queer and trans people can face criminal charges under colonial-era anti-gay laws that can result in life in prison, according to ILGA's 2017 report. In eight countries, the death penalty can be applied. In many countries, LGBTQI people are outed in the media, attacked by mob violence, sexually assaulted, or rounded up in state-sanctioned crackdowns by police — sweeps like we saw last year in Chechnya, and currently unfolding in Egypt, where Powell recently visited.
World Refugee Day honours the courage, strength and determination of those who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Everyone deserves dignity, freedom, and human rights.
More about Rainbow Railroad
Rainbow Railroad is a Toronto-based international organization that helps LGBTQI people escape persecution and violence where homosexuality is criminalized. This can include funds to cover the cost of travel documents, airfare, and basic needs. To get on board with Rainbow Railroad and help save LGBTQI lives, visit www.RainbowRailroad.ca.
SOURCE Rainbow Railroad
For further information: Andrea Houston, Communications and Development, Rainbow Railroad, [email protected]