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Gay refugees likely rejected if new Canadian bill passes

Gay refugees likely rejected if new Canadian bill passes

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C-31 will make it hard to 'fully and thoroughly' assess any claim: expert
Refugees’ rights advocates say a law proposed by the Harper government will increase the likelihood that gay asylum seekers will be rejected, deported or imprisoned.

“C-31 is designed to make Canada quite an unattractive option for people seeking protection. And it certainly will make it very difficult for anyone, whether or not they have good grounds for protection, to have their claim fully and thoroughly assessed,” says Lesley Stalker, a former legal officer for the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, who addressed a May 30 forum on the bill in Vancouver.

Under the new process, claimants from designated "safe" countries of origin would face accelerated timelines and be denied the right to appeal a decision. Sharalyn Jordan, of the Rainbow Refugee Committee, decries the designated country provision as profoundly unsafe for queer refugee claimants.

“A list cannot accommodate the current complexity and flux in protection and persecution for LGBTQ people,” she says. “For example, the Ukraine has an elected parliament, an independent judiciary, and civil society organizations. Based on Bill C-31, it could be designated, and yet this week its parliament is considering a law banning speech or writing that promotes homosexuality, and neo-Nazis are attacking LGBTQ people in the streets of Kiev.”

A country may be designated for rapid processing without appeal if the minister of citizenship and immigration believes it has an independent judicial system, recognizes basic democratic rights and freedoms, and makes available a mechanism for redress, and if civil society organizations exist.

"South Africa recognizes same-sex marriages, yet there are 10 cases a week there where lesbians have been targeted for corrective rape and police have done nothing to investigate," Jordan says. “It’s precisely when country conditions appear safe on paper that LGBTQ decisions are the topics and the safety net and appeal is most critical.”

“A life-or-death decision should never rest in one person’s hands,” she adds, questioning the lack of appeal proposed by the new bill.

Expected to pass by the end of June, Bill C-31 would amend four existing pieces of legislation to provide faster protection to those believed by the government to genuinely need it, while deporting ”bogus” refugees more quickly.

C-31 would give claimants 45 to 60 days from their initial screenings to their final hearings, depending on their countries of origin, and at most 50 days to submit all corroborating evidence 10 days before their final hearings. Currently there is no time limit on the process.

Jordan stresses that it is very difficult for gay claimants in particular to prepare and corroborate evidence within this timeframe. She notes that proving a claim often involves tracking down ex-lovers for letters, as well as obtaining medical and police records from countries and societies that may be very hostile to gay people. She also says it can take time for gay refugees to divulge traumatic life experiences to government officials.

"Undertaking an asylum application entails accessing and working within a refugee system that was not designed with lesbian, gay, bi, trans or queer refugees in mind — requiring claimants to prove an often hidden and stigmatized identity and to disclose experiences that are often traumatizing and deeply private," Jordan says.

“Bill C-31 will benefit genuine refugees who are persecuted because they are a LGBTQ person, as they will receive Canada's protection in a matter of a few short months, compared to the current system in which they must wait an unacceptable two years,” counters Ana Curic, spokesperson for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

“It is also important to note that under Bill C-31, the independent IRB [Immigration and Refugee Board] has the ability to delay a hearing if they feel that a claimant requires more time to prepare for their hearing,” Curic points out.

Bill C-31 would also place restrictions on asylum seekers the minister deems “irregular,” including people suspected of human smuggling or affiliation with a criminal organization or a terrorist group. If the government is unable to establish a claimant’s identity in a timely manner, they would also be deemed “irregular” and sent to detention.

“The detention would be for a period of 14 days,” Stalker says. “They would have a detention review and would then presumably [be] remanded back into detention because nobody is going to get out after 14 days under the circumstances. We are looking at massive detentions, and detention takes place in correction facilities in British Columbia. In some cities, Montreal and Toronto, they have facilities specifically for migrants.”

“The idea of establishing identity is an added burden and one that most particularly, I would argue, most impacts queer and trans refugees,” says Harsha Walia, of No One Is Illegal, who also spoke at the forum. “For queer and trans folks, within two weeks, somehow miraculously from jail, they are going to have to procure all these identity documents. Particularly for trans folk it will be incredibly hard to obtain these documents.”

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Comments

Sad News Stories and Appathetic Canada
The true and ugly face of conservatism shouldn't surprise anyone. One of their favourite arguments is that it could be worse, you're lucky to live in Canada... That's of course pseudo-logic. Just because it can be worse doesn't mean our government should bring us down to the lowest common denominator. Most Canadians did not in fact vote for these guys. They do not have an authoritative mandate as they like to proclaim. They have a weak majority, and they represent a tiny minority voice of racists, bigots, homophobes, money launderers, oild tycoons, and ignorant wannabe rich good ol' boys. So... Never let them tell you it could be worse. It already is, and it can only get worse if these bullies are allowed to stay in power. Hit 'em hard in the Provincial election and un-elect their best friend neo-liberals. Each sad news story just re-iterates what we should have known all along, that by not voting, we abdicate our voice to those with an axe to grind, and a vested interest in the outcome. If we want change we have to push for it, and back it up.
Taking back Canada?
Ron, you're a Native Canadian, and you are going to kick the likes of me out of Canada? My mother and father were both born in Canada and thus have Canadian citizenship, but I don't feel that I have the right to call this my country as my heritage in Canada does not go back countless generations (ie. too many to literally count).

I have not seen one non-white person ever speak of taking back the country. Sorry, but all of us white people here are immigrants. I have no home country. I was born here, my heritage is Finnish, English and German. I would not be welcomed as a native of those countries either. I am homeless.

I want the country that I have the most connection with to respect my values as much as possible. And I see that the Conservative Party of Canada does not respect those values and I am working on a local level to help ensure that at least locally they are not supported locally.

I also try to work as much as I can provincially and federally to have my voice heard by not only the Conservative Party of Canada, but all parties who are in elected positions whether, in government or opposition.

This legislation like all legislation I've heard of being introduced by the Conservative Party of Canada sounds horrible for the social fabric of the country.

I'm sorry that so many in Canada are apathetic and choose not to vote. I think that this is something that would not have happened had there been a greater voter turnout.

I voted in advanced polls because I would not be able to vote on voting day. Most Canadians would not make that effort.

Jigme Datse Yli-Rasku
It's too bad
that gays are going to be rejected, but the politically correct misguided did this. Rather than stick up for gays they put their eggs into the basket of scam artists, criminals, treasonous groups and even those who would wish gays harm. Their "no one is illegal" support put all gays in Canada at risk. It's a conservative government, what did they expect?
C-31 is a good law
Canadians are taking back our country. C-31 will be law next week; and all the crooked immigration lawyers, treasonous leftists, and No One Is Illegal lunatics can go fuck themselves. Very few true gay refugees ever made it to Canada - they have mostly been frauds. The real ones will still be accepted.
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