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New Refugee Stream in Canada for Human Rights Defenders will provide safe haven for those that are fleeing persecution and violence; LGBTQI+ inclusion is needed.
On July 16, Rainbow Railroad — an international organization that helps LGBTQI+ people escape violence and persecution to find a path to safety — joined Canada’s Minister Marco Mendicino at an announcement of a new, dedicated refugee stream for international Human Rights Defenders. Rainbow Railroad welcomes this announcement and looks forward to working closely with the government on its implementation.
LGBTQI+ people continue to face widespread discrimination and violence globally in the approximately 70 countries around the world in which same-sex intimacy is criminalized. In some countries and regions, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, with LGBTQI+ communities being targeted in both community and state-led crackdowns. Relatedly, harassment and targeting of Human Rights Defenders are increasing.
With this announcement today, Canada becomes one of the first countries in the world to provide a dedicated refugee stream for Human Rights Defenders at risk. Rainbow Railroad has played a consultative role in developing this new policy, making key recommendations to inform the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, since the Minister’s mandate letter called to “Introduce a dedicated refugee stream to provide safe haven for human rights advocates, journalists, and humanitarian workers at risk, with a target of helping resettle as many as 250 people a year”.
“Rainbow Railroad has been working with the government of Canada to advocate for the tools needed to support Human Rights Defenders at risk around the world – especially those who are LGBTQI+ and thus uniquely vulnerable to persecution and violence,” said Rainbow Railroad Executive Director, Kimahli Powell. “We look forward to working with the government and its implementing partners to ensure LGBTQI+ Human Rights Defenders are included and prioritized in this new stream.”
Recently, Rainbow Railroad has clearly outlined the global conditions impacting vulnerable LGBTQI+ populations experiencing global persecution and violence in its report on the impacts of COVID-19 on LGBTQI+ migrants and in its comprehensive Annual Report: Understanding the State of Global LGBTQI+ Persecution. In both reports, Rainbow Railroad details the unique vulnerabilities and challenges that global LGBTQI+ refugees, displaced persons, and Human Rights Defenders face.
Rainbow Railroad will continue to advocate for proactive policies to allow LGBTQI+ refugees and those who are internally displaced to find swift refuge in Canada. “Rainbow Railroad stands ready to continue working with the Government on this issue. This is an especially important step”, says Powell, “But more needs to be done.”
More about Rainbow Railroad
Rainbow Railroad is an international charitable organization based in Canada and the United States that helps LGBTQI+ people seeking safe haven from state-enabled violence and persecution in countries where same-sex intimacy is criminalized. We provide information, connections, and funding for travel and other associated costs. Rainbow Railroad is a registered Canadian charity and 501(c)(3) organization in the USA. For more information, please visit www.rainbowrailroad.org. Since 2006 we have helped more than 1600 LGBTQI+ persons find safety, including over 100 people in 2021 to date.
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