February 10, 2015 – Reported by CBC News – Activists in Nova Scotia are concerned that a federal government program helping to bring gay refugees to Canada is coming to an end next month, saying the move could put lives in danger.
The federal program ensures there’s a separate category of refugees based on sexual orientation, and provides money to get setup in Canada and three months of living expenses. The amount is approximately $3,000 for each refugee.
In Nova Scotia, there are currently nine gay refugees who are living in the province.
A private group, the Rainbow Refugee Association, sponsored three of them with help from the federal government. They are concerned about the end of the program, which is due to expire at the end of March.
Pedram Niakan is one of the government sponsored refugees brought to Canada. He is from Iran and although he keeps in touch with his family there, he realizes he can’t return home.
“It was so scary. Every morning I woke up and I live in fear,” he said.
Iran is one of seven countries where being homosexual could lead to torture and even death, according to the association.
Since 2011, the Canadian citizenship and immigration program has helped LGBT refugees escape those nations and find a safe haven here.
Over the past 18 months, the Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia has sponsored five Iranians. They are still awaiting the arrival of two of them…story continues…
The group’s co-chair Corrie Melanson worries fewer refugees will arrive without the federal help.