by ZOSIA BIELSKI
Originally published: May 1, 2017
Then they reach Canadian soil, gay refugees fleeing repressive, homophobic regimes face a maddening challenge. Fearing being beaten, jailed, tortured or killed in their home countries, they hide their sexual orientation all their lives. In Canada, they face a 180: to secure status as a persecuted minority, they are asked to prove their sexuality on the spot.
This means furnishing refugee boards with detailed documentation of their same-sex relationships – intimate texts, letters, photographs and other romantic artifacts they may have erased, or never manufactured, for their own safety. Other gay refugees have no boyfriends or girlfriends to show at all, having remained single out of fear.
Without proof, gay refugee claimants’ credibility is shot. How do they convince Canada to give them sanctuary?