Envisioning LGBT Refugee Rights in Canada: The Impact of Canada’s New Immigration Regime

Canada’s current immigration regime poses challenges for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) asylum seekers, says new report

Recent changes such as the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act (Bill C-31, 2012) have led to a refugee system that creates particular barriers for LGBT asylum seekers. Many come from over 75 countries where homosexuality is illegal. In fact, the overall system is “anti-refugee for all potential claimants.” This is the conclusion reached by the report Envisioning LGBT Refugee Rights in Canada: The Impact of Canada’s New Immigration Regime. The report states:

“The Conservative government’s anti-refugee attitude has resulted in serious erosions of Canada’s obligations in regard to international protection, as evidenced by sharp drops in refugee claims and acceptance…”
“The changes negatively affect all refugees, but LGBT asylum seekers bear particular burdens as a result of their unique cultural position and marginalization.”

One of the burdens identified is that shortened timelines in the claim process make it very difficult to build a case, especially for LGBT claimants who have spent a lifetime hiding their identity. They are generally expected to provide evidence “proving” their sexual orientation or gender identity, and lack of such evidence may be used to undermine their credibility. In addition, some decision-makers may rely on stereotypical or inaccurate conceptions of LGBT identity despite the fact that such decisions have been overturned by judicial review.

The report was produced by Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights, a research project of community partners and York University. Many of the community partners provide key services for LGBT asylum seekers in the GTA. They spoke of the need for more resources related to the themes of the report, particularly with regard to: impacts of the new system; effects on mental health; analysis of grounds on which claims are rejected and later overturned on appeal; and guidance for potential claimants to navigate a complex system. To help meet these needs, Envisioning Global LGBT Human Rights is proud to announce the publication of the report and three information sheets.

Find the report and information sheets at:


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