News Release — Government of Canada to help gay and lesbian refugees fleeing persecution

Ottawa, March 24, 2011 — A pilot project to help refugees fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation was announced by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today.

We are very pleased to be working with the Rainbow Refugee Committee to help refugees who are in need of protection, particularly those who are persecuted because of their sexual orientation,” said Minister Kenney. “By partnering with this organization and allowing Canadians to play a part in refugee protection, the private sponsorship program showcases grassroots support for this country’s international commitment to humanitarian action.

Through this pilot project, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will partner with the Rainbow Refugee Committee to share the cost of sponsoring a refugee. The Department will provide up to $100,000 in assistance to support this initiative. This contribution will be in the form of three months of income support for the refugees that are sponsored. The Rainbow Refugee Committee will also provide the refugees with orientation services, accommodations, basic household needs, basic food staples, clothing and ongoing food needs for the duration of the sponsorship period.

These funds are a welcome first step in response to the crisis facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the globe, at a time when seventy-seven countries continue to criminalize homosexuality and five prescribe the death penalty,” said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada, Canada’s national LGBT human rights organization. “The Rainbow Refugee Committee provides critical support to asylum seekers fleeing homophobic and transphobic persecution in their countries of origin.

As part of this agreement, the Rainbow Refugee Committee is expected to encourage other organizations to work with them in the sponsorship of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered refugees.

Encouraging private sponsors to come forward is vital to refugees in need of protection and to the future of the private sponsorship program,” said Minister Kenney. “Canada has a proud tradition of opening its doors to people from around the world and providing a safe haven to those in need of protection. The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program plays a significant role in the resettlement of refugees from across the globe.

To further enhance Canada’s tradition as a leader in international refugee protection, the Government of Canada is also increasing the number of refugees who are resettled from refugee camps and urban slums by 20 percent. The number of refugees resettled through the Government-Assisted Refugees Program will be increased over time by up to 500, and a further 2,000 resettlement places will be added to the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. Since the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program began 30 years ago, Canadians have sponsored more than 200,000 refugees.

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Alykhan Velshi
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
613-952-1650
CIC-Media-Relations@cic.gc.ca

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