The Fight for Universal Gay Rights Starts from Home

*Photo courtesy of http://ilga.org/ (Countries with the death penalty for homosexuality are marked in Dark Brown).

In some places, homosexuality still equates death. The International Lesbian, Gay, Trans, and Intersex Association (IGLA) lists seven nations that exercise the death penalty with individuals charged with homosexuality. Those include Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Mauritania. Capital punishment is not the only form of penalty that members of the LGBT community worldwide are faced with. In fact, 93 out of 193 countries in the world have criminalized homosexuality to this day. Punitive measures include decades of or life imprisonment, fines, restrictions and penal labor. One must also remember that even if not officially convicted of the ‘crime’ of homosexuality, stigmatization, rejection and social hostility could at times be a much more burdensome and longer-lasting form of coercion.

The Canadian government grants Asylum or Refugee status to foreign individuals who may be at risk upon returning to their homeland. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered persons constitute a large segment of such groups. The Rainbow Refugee committee was created in 2001 to ensure that foreign LGBT persons receive all the counseling, legal advice and support they need to win their asylum cases in court and maintain decent and humane living conditions as refugees in Canada. Rainbow Refugee advocates and promotes social justice for LGBT persons before and after their application process to remain in Canada. The group is all-member driven and is operated by volunteers (many of whom are familiar with the grueling Asylum process from firsthand experiences).

Rainbow Refugee meetings are held bi-monthly (usually on Thursdays) at BC’s Queer Resource aka ‘Qmunity’ at 1170 Bute Street (the corner of Davie and Bute).

If this matter concerns you, a family member or a friend in any way, please visit www.qmunity.ca or http://rainbowrefugeecanada.wordpress.com/ or call  (614) 684-5307 to inquire about the group’s next scheduled meeting.

*Please note that if you are interested in attending a meeting for personal advice or to inquire about how you could get involved with Rainbow Refugee, it is paramount to maintain confidentiality. It is your responsibility to not disclose any member names or information, as it could potentially endanger those individuals.

By Jamal Saad