Recently, the provincial government announced a 35% cut to Legal Aid Ontario. This cut includes eliminating all provincially-funded legal aid support to refugees.
Around the World
72 countries consider same-sex relationships a criminal offence. In 9 states they are punishable by death. Even in countries where it is legal, there are reports of LGBTQ people being targeted with bullying or physical assault or even homicide.
We refer 95% of our refugee clients to Legal Aid for support. No Legal Aid support for LGBTQ+ refugees means more denied claims which will lead to more persecution of queer and trans people.
Every year, The 519 provides settlement support to over 1500 LGBTQ+ refugees.
Refugees who come to Canada have a history of trauma and violence, as a result of which they decide to leave their countries of origin. They continue to face intense barriers after their arrival and are often left re-traumatized in the process of claim and re-settlement. LGBTQ refugees, as part of their claims process, also have to prove their sexual orientation and/or gender identity – a truth they have often have never lived in their countries of origin due to fear of persecution and violence.
Legal Aid funding is essential to protect the rights of such a vulnerable population and to ensure that their full story is heard by a refugee decision-maker through providing access to legal representation
For many of our refugee clients, appearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board unrepresented will be catastrophic and will no doubt result in examples where queer and trans refugees will be removed from Canada and returned to their countries of origin where they may very well face imprisonment, torture or even death.
We refer over 95% of our 1500+ clients to legal aid in order to get the support they need to be successful in their claims. Cuts to Legal Aid Ontario will make it impossible for settlement service organizations like ours to provide them the critical support they need to live a life of health, happiness, and full participation.
We Need your Help.
Join our army of lovers. Stand with us and speak out about how these cuts will be disastrous for LGBTQ2S communities.