Immigration and Refugee Board reverses earlier decisions
On Aug 26, 2016 Daily Xtra reported:
After a three year fight to stay in Canada, a gay man from St Kitts and Nevis has been granted refugee status.
It took Rolston Ryan, who now lives in Toronto, six legal proceedings, include two trips to the Federal Court, to finally be acknowledged as a refugee.
“He suffered harassment, discrimination and violence in St Kitts amounting to persecution,” wrote Michele Pettinella, the member of the Immigration and Refugee Board who decided his case. “He did not receive adequate protection from the state when he reported a violent attack.”
Ryan, who was stabbed and beaten in St Kitts because of his sexual orientation, escaped to Canada in 2013 after he was threatened with a gun.
Unlike some LGBT asylum seekers, Ryan’s sexual orientation was never in doubt. Instead, immigration officials argued that there wasn’t any evidence that St Kitts and Nevis was unable to protects its queer citizens.
This is despite the fact that gay sex remains illegal in the island federation and can be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
But the July 27 decision by the Refugee Appeal Division definitively stated unequivocally that St Kitts and Nevis is unwilling to safeguard its LGBT citizens.
“The state criminalizes homosexual activity,” wrote Pettinella. “This is reflective of a state that is homophobic.”
Previous decisions by the Immigration and Refugee Board had cast doubt on Ryan’s credibility and argued that the treatment he endured in St Kitts didn’t amount to persecution, but Pettinella rejected both arguments.