Federal partnership brings LGBTQ refugees to Canada

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that a new partnership with Rainbow Railroad will welcome LGBTQ refugees to Canada and provide them “a safe place to call home.”

The federal government announced it would partner with the non-profit organization to identify LGBTQ people and their families fleeing violence and persecution and refer them for resettlement under Canada’s Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) Program.

“Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, and Canada continues to be a destination of choice for people looking to start a new life with new opportunities for them and their families,” said Trudeau in a statement.

“Together with Rainbow Railroad, we will help LGBTQI+ people start a new, safe chapter here in Canada.”

Founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad is a global not-for-profit based in Canada that has helped thousands of LGBTQ refugees from around the world escape violence and persecution in their home countries.

Under the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership, Canadians will be encouraged to sponsor LGBTQ refugees by providing start-up costs and three months of income support. Private sponsors would provide nine months of income support.

In many parts of the world, LGBTQI+ people face severe discrimination and are criminalized just for being who they are, according to Canada’s immigration minister Sean Fraser.

That’s why, he said, Canada must step up and protect the rights and freedoms of LGBTQ people.

“This new partnership with Rainbow Railroad – making us one of the first countries to have such an arrangement with an LGBTQI+ organization – helps Canada continue to be a safe haven for LGBTQI+ people at risk around the world,” he said.

“It will also better equip us to respond to emerging situations anywhere in the world.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of Rainbow Railroad says the agreement with the federal government represents “a landmark milestone” in the organization’s history, and they hope other countries will follow suit.

“In a time when there are more displaced people than ever, LGBTQI+ people are uniquely vulnerable due to systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia,” said Kimahli Powell.

“We are proud to work with the Government of Canada to bring even more at-risk LGBTQI+ individuals to safety in Canada.”

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