The rules for refugee status for LGBTQ+ individuals in Canada


Chad G. Peters

Canada is known for its commitment to LGBTQ+ rights and its asylum policy for individuals fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or belonging to this group. Refugee status for LGBTQ+ individuals in Canada is established within the framework of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

To obtain refugee status in Canada as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, several criteria must be met. The first step involves demonstrating a credible fear of persecution in the person’s country of origin due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This persecution can take various forms, such as discriminatory laws, physical violence, death threats, sexual assaults, or widespread discrimination.

The applicant must provide credible evidence to support their fears, such as personal testimonies, human rights reports, medical evidence, or third-party testimonies. The credibility and consistency of the narratives are also carefully examined during the application process.

Once the asylum application is filed, the applicant undergoes an assessment process by either the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). This process includes interviews and hearings where the applicant has the opportunity to present their case and provide additional evidence to support their claim.

It’s crucial to note that each application is assessed individually, and decisions are based on the evidence provided and the credibility of the applicant. Sensitivity to gender and sexual orientation issues is considered throughout the process to ensure fair and respectful treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals seeking asylum.

Moreover, Canada acknowledges that sexual minorities may face particular challenges in providing evidence. It can be difficult for LGBTQ+ individuals to provide tangible evidence of persecution due to social stigma, concealing their identity, or fear of reprisals in their country of origin. Hence, special considerations are taken into account to assess these claims and the obstacles these individuals may encounter when collecting evidence.

If the asylum application is approved, the person is granted refugee status in Canada, allowing them to access various rights and benefits, such as the right to work, study, and access healthcare.

It’s important to emphasize that the refugee status granting process is complex and can be time-consuming. Furthermore, even though Canada has a progressive policy on LGBTQ+ rights, each case is evaluated individually, and there’s no automatic guarantee of refugee status for LGBTQ+ individuals.