On June 20, 2016 VICE News reported:
As the number of refugees and displaced people worldwide reaches a record 65 million, debate continues over whether asylum seekers — especially LGBT people — from countries deemed to be safe, should be granted refugee status abroad.
Several countries in Europe have compiled “safe country of origin” lists, whereby anyone from those countries will likely to be sent home if they try to seek asylum in another country.
In North America, Canada has been relying heavily since 2013 on its safe country list to guide who should be blocked from obtaining refuge, a process the government argues is meant to ensure “genuine” refugees are resettled. And now, Canada is facing fresh criticisms for listing Mexico among its 42 “safe” nations, especially as the LGBT community there and people living with HIV continue to face rampant violence and discrimination.
A new report from the University of Toronto released Monday urges the Canadian government to immediately strike Mexico from the “designated country of origin” (DCO) list, concluding that Canada’s inclusion of Mexico flouts its international human rights obligations towards those fleeing persecution. Most countries with safe lists do not include Mexico.
“When we asked people and experts in Mexico what they thought about it being on that safe country list, they all kind of laughed at just how wrong-headed that was,” Kristin Marshall, co-author of the report, said in an interview. When it comes to safe country lists in general, Marshall said it’s “just plain wrong to make a blanket statement about a country’s safety.”
Marshall and her colleagues interviewed a number of healthcare workers, human rights advocates, and members of the LGBT community in Mexico, and found that the country’s health system blatantly discriminates against LGBT people and those living with HIV, and routinely denies them access to lifesaving treatments. On top of that, she heard stories about women with HIV being forcible sterilized, denied the right to information about HIV treatment and therapy, and domestic violence by their partners.
Experts told the researchers that transgender women in Mexico are the most vulnerable to physical, emotional and health risks, including HIV, as well as hate crimes and murders. In the town of Chiapas, for example, assailants spray-painted the homes of people with living with HIV so that other residents could “avoid and ostracize them.”
The 54-page report comes a week before the Three Amigos summit, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host Barack Obama and Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto in Ottawa.