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Liberal support for LGBT Syrian refugees lacking, says NDP

Garrison raises concerns that immigration department is not doing enough

NDP MP Randall Garrison raised alarms on Feb 18, 2016, calling on the Liberals to help LGBT Syrians “find the safety and support they need.” Credit: YouTube/NDP

The Liberal government is failing LGBT Syrian refugees seeking asylum and support in Canada, the opposition New Democrats allege.

“The government continues to express its good intentions while the lives of LGBT Syrians remain at serious risk,” NDP MP Randall Garrison said Feb 18, 2016, in Parliament.

The NDP’s LGBT critic is asking the Liberals to help LGBT Syrians “find the safety and support they need.”

When the Liberals announced their plan to airlift 25,000 Syrians in November 2015, they listed “members of the LGBTI community” as one of four priority groups.

Garrison told Daily Xtra earlier this month that Canadian officials don’t always note an applicant’s sexual orientation in their files, even for Syrians who disclose they are LGBT to UN officials. This absence of information makes it nearly impossible for groups in Canada to sponsor LGBT asylum seekers, or have supports ready upon their arrival.

Some groups have managed to sponsor LGBT Syrians through resettlement groups certified by the government, but those familiar with the program have only heard of a dozen cases.

The government also didn’t specify whether it has any measures in place to make sure LGBT Syrians don’t face violence or discrimination by fellow refugees.

Now, Garrison is going public with accusations that the government is sitting on its hands. Garrison told Parliament that the immigration minister asked him to create a plan to accommodate LGBT Syrians, which he submitted in December 2015, but he claims nothing has been done since.

“Three obstacles still remain: getting access to the Canadian system from the region, meeting the unique settlement needs of LGBT refugees, and making links with the local LGBT groups in Canada waiting to sponsor them,” Garrison says.

The immigration department did not respond to a request for comment.