If you are experiencing persecution or fear persecution because of your sexual orientation or gender identity:
- To be recognized as a refugee, you must leave your home country and go to another country. Confirm that these countries can give you temporary safety before you go there. Contact the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office in your home country or in the country to which you hope to go. Some countries do not use the UNHCR to make the decision about who is a refugee, and make these decisions themselves.
- It is very helpful to gather and take any original documents that will support the claim that you are being persecuted or fear persecution in your home country to the safer country. Copies may not be recognized.
- Depending on the safer country you are in, you may need to make a refugee claim when you arrive or shortly after arrival in that country. You may make be able to make that claim with the border police of that country and/or with the UNHCR. You will probably get an appointment for when a decision will be made. The UNHCR makes this decision through one or more interviews. There is a lot of variation in how countries make these decisions, but many use a legal process. You may benefit from getting legal help. This help is free in some places.
- The government or the UNHCR will have a process to decide if you are a Convention Refugee. They will give you formal recognition if they find that you are a Convention Refugee. Not all countries have signed the Convention on Refugees.
- If you are a recognized refugee in a country where you cannot live permanently, and you cannot go back to your country of origin, the UNHCR may ask you to come to an appointment to discuss which safe country you can be resettled to. You may or may not be allowed to chose the country you will be resettled in. It will likely take several years to complete the UNHCR process. If you are offered to be resettled to another country you could become a Government Sponsored Refugee, or you could also be privately sponsored. Private sponsorship means that a private group has agreed to sponsor you.
UNHCR Country Office List – This list of UNHCR Country Offices was provided to the Fahamu Refugee Programme in 2013. There is other useful information on this page.
Free Legal Aid Information by Country – Fahamu Refugee Programme has listed non-government organisations (NGOs) or not-for-profit organizations (and, in rare cases, individual lawyers) who offer pro bono (free) legal aid and/or other services for refugees. Some countries have no legal aid for refugees but do have NGOs that provide other services that can be valuable for refugees and might lead to legal aid.
For recognized refugees who have been referred to Canada by the UNHCR or who have been sponsored by a private group and will be arriving in Canada:
- When you arrive as a sponsored refugee, you will become a Permanent Resident and be welcomed to Canada.
- Someone will meet you at the airport.
- You will be taken to a temporary place to stay while you find a permanent place to stay.
- You will have money for your basic needs.
- Generally, you will be supported for up to a year.
- If you need to improve your language there are English or French language classes.
- There will be people to help you settle in the country.
Digital security tools and tactics for the LGBT people – You should know about the most recent methods and tools of digital security, through which LGBT persons and human rights defenders can ensure their online privacy, circumvent governmental censorship and threats, and protect their information, personal pages, profiles and websites from being hacked, accessed, and ultimately used against them. This guide was developed in order to help contextualise digital security threats for LGBT persons and human rights defenders from the Arabic-speaking countries, as well as the tools and tactics that can be used for overcoming them.
Canadian Client Application Status – This on-line service allows Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) clients to view securely the status of their immigration and/or citizenship application(s), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week anytime, anywhere.
Kinbrace has a great resource for anyone preparing for a refugee hearing. Read the guide in multiple languages.
Private Sponsorship of Refugees Toolkit (Resource from the Canadian Council for Refugees)