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Canadian LGBT groups step in to help Syrian refugees

Michelle O'Toole November 30, 2015

LGBT Syrian refugees landing in Canada can expect a helping hand from the country’s LGBT groups upon their arrival.

Last week the Canadian government announced that they had made provisions to accept and resettle LGBT asylum seekers who were escaping persecution.

Homosexuality is illegal in Syria, with a penalty of up to three years imprisonment for those who are found guilty.

However, whilst the law has been suspended since 2011 due to the civil war there have been widespread reports that hundreds of LGBT people have been targeted and executed by ISIS.

Groups in Toronto and Winnipeg, including Rainbow Railroad, Winnipeg Pride and Egale Youth OUTreach, have stepped forward to assist LGBT refugees secure housing, employment and trauma counselling.

Winnipeg Pride PR representative Jeff Myall told CBC “We know, firsthand, from those types of countries, LGBT refugees are very vulnerable to violence and persecution,

“We talk about how for gay men over there, it’s extremely taboo. For gay women it can be just as bad, because they don’t have the same kind of rights that men have. For gay women, in some cases, it’s even more dangerous.”

Justin Taylor, director of Toronto LGBT charity Rainbow Road, told CBC “Unlike the rest of the Syrians that we often hear about who are travelling as families, the individuals we’re helping are fleeing from their families in addition to fleeing violence from their government and ISIS.”

Canada’s ruling Liberal party has pledged to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees, most of whom will be women and children. Due to security concerns men who travel alone will not be granted asylum.

However, asylum will be granted to gay, bisexual and transgender men who face persecution from the Syrian government and ISIS.

More: Americas, Canada, Canada, Homophobia, ISIL, isis, Islamic state, Middle East, persecution, Syria, Syria

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