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Let Leatitia stay

Let Leatitia stay

This past May British criminal Conrad Black was allowed to move to Canada after he was released from an American prison. In 2007 Black was convicted of fraud and obstruction of justice.
 
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defended the decision, noting that officials often hand out temporary residence permits “to foreign nationals who have had criminal convictions if in their opinion they do not pose a risk to Canadian society.”
 
“They also look at other criteria,” Kenney continued, “such as whether that person has long-standing ties to the country, family connections, humanitarian and compassionate considerations.”
 
 
The Ugandan lesbian fled to Canada after years of abuse, torture, threats and rape in her home country. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and lawmakers there are currently debating whether gay people should be put to death (some, like gay activist David Kato, have already been murdered). Nanziri gave birth to two children in Canada — both are Canadian citizens who have never been to Africa.
 
These facts are simple enough — and surely fall in line with Kenney’s criteria.
 
Nanziri is not a felon, she has long-standing ties to Canada, including family connections (her children), and anyone who knows anything about the situation for gay people in central Africa would certainly grant her residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
 
Not so. The country where Nanziri has sought refuge and raised her children for the past seven years is now trying to kick her out. An officer at the Refugee Board does not believe Nanziri is a lesbian and has said she should be deported.
 
Nanziri, who has admittedly been in relationships with both men and women, was in court Aug 1 fighting for the right to remain here with her children while she appeals this order.
 
 
Vancouver lawyer barbara findlay agrees, appropriately asking in her blog, “How would you prove you are queer?” 
 
It’s a question I’ve asked in this space before. How can we expect people who have spent their lives trying to conceal and deny their sexuality to turn around and prove they are gay in the refugee or immigration application process? Shouldn’t we then also ask convicted criminals like Conrad Black to prove that they do not pose a risk to Canadian society?
 
I have many gay friends from Africa and can testify to the unremitting fear they face, fear that is often more pronounced once they reach the “safe” shores of countries like Canada. Sometimes members of immigrant communities can be even more dogmatic about culture and religion than they would be back home. It is a way of coping and maintaining traditions in a strange place. We all do it in different ways — I’ve never been to more lavish Canada Day parties than those hosted by Canadians in foreign capitals.
 
One gay friend (who years ago proved to me he is gay in the only way one can prove such things) moved to Canada from Uganda to study and decided to stay here for some of the same reasons as Nanziri. We’ll call him Timothy. Timothy was here only a short while before gossip in Toronto’s Ugandan community (and rumours back home) forced him to take a drastic measure to ensure his safety. Timothy travelled back to Uganda and had sex with a woman there until she became pregnant. He became a father in Africa so he is able to safely remain in Canada as a gay man.
 
Sadly, none of this should be all that surprising. It wasn’t long ago many gay Canadians took similar measures (some still do). “Canada doesn’t understand that if you live in a repressive country you may hide your sexual orientation; you may have a heterosexual marriage,” findlay wrote on her blog. “And just like many Canadian lesbians with a husband and maybe children in their past, Ugandan lesbians may marry . . . and still be lesbians.”
 
Of course, at the end of the day the only thing that should matter, regardless of who Nanziri is currently shagging, is that she fears for her life if she is sent back home because people in Uganda believe she is a lesbian.
 
 
Federal officials, including Jason Kenney and Canada’s Refugee Board have a responsibility to protect Leatitia Nanziri from a similar fate. Until they do, those of us who live safely in Canada and don’t have such threats hanging over us need to be as loud as we can in her defence.
 
 
 
 
 
  

Comments

Some refugee claimants do lie that thy are Gay
A Hungarian Roma/Gypsy man has asked for “refugee status” in Canada on the grounds that he is Gay and is persecuted in Hungary. Meanwhile he is living with his girlfriend and 2 children on Tobermory Drive --on government support, which is twice what welfare recipients get. He is most definitely not Gay --he admits it himself to people who ask him, yet he still applied to the Refugee Board as a Gay refugee. There are people abusing the system. I'm glad the inspectors are checking. If there is a quota of how many refugees are allowed into the country, then Gays/Lesbian refugees should get all the spots available to them. We have to make sure that LGBT people are not cheated out of their rightful opportunities, by people who lie that they are LGBT, when they are not. It is difficult to tell sometimes, but worth the effort of investigation. Unfortunately some people are mistakenly turned away as well. The New York Times did a report last year on Gay Refugee fraud. There are companies now which coach people --for a hefty fee-- on how to behave and dress for a Gay refugee hearing. Gay refugee fraud is no longer an isolated incident; it has gone mainstream.
There is always two sides to a story
I read your article. Well first if Timothy felt that while in Canada he was still endangered by the fact that people thought he was gay. And that this thought was so powerful that he had to go back to his country and fathered a child to prove he was straight then ìt seems that granting residency to gay Ougandans is not sufficient for them to be protected. Apparently, having kids is the only protection they have and Laetitia has kids I really doubt she would be perceived as a lesbian in Ouganda. That being said it is true that many Refugees use homosexuality as a way to obtain permanent residency in Canada. I personnaly know of two cases of people who did it and obtain residency based on false allegations. Unfortunately, regardless of the motives used to seek asylum we have no choice to investigate them including sexual orientation. Most of you have never been in an audience. If you had you would see the gross contradiction that often arises in the applicant discourse. Some of these contradiction can't be attributed to stress. From the outside things always look a certain way. Unfortunately the person who made the decision has no right to disclose the information....
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