Update – Mar 6: NDP MP Thomas Mulcair says that the immigration minister has said “no” to his request to intervene on behalf of a gay refugee facing deportation. The deportation is scheduled for 6pm tonight.
Thomas Mulcair had tears in his eyes at a press conference yesterday where he asked the Conservative government to intervene on behalf of a gay refugee.
The Quebec NDP MP made the plea to immigration minister Diane Finley as “a last resort,” says Mulcair. He wants Finley to grant Kulenthiran Amirthalingam — Kulen as he’s known — permission to stay in Canada.
“I chose to believe that there are fundamental values which unite us” rather than divide us, Mulcair told reporters Mar 5.
Those values include not deporting a man to a country where he faces jail time “just because of who he is,” he says.
In 2002, Kulen spent five days in jail in Malaysia after the family of an ex-lover reported him to the authorities.
“I fear for my imprisonment,” says Kulen. “so I ask Minister Finley to let me stay in Canada.”
Mulcair sent Finley’s office a letter dated Feb 25, 2008 asking for her intervention. He says he received a curt, verbal “no” to the request, but hasn’t seen any formal response from the minister’s office.
Kulen’s story cuts across religious barriers and social taboos in Malaysia, his country of origin. There, gay sex — even oral sex — can be punished with 20-year sentences and physical punishment.
“Kulen is a gay man from a Hindu family who is known to police and the vice squads in Malaysia,” says Mulcair’s letter to Finley. “His former relationship, of 12 years, with his Muslim partner was ended by police involvement and resulted in Kulen’s incarceration and torture.”
Amnesty International has intervened on behalf of Kulen.
“Amnesty International believes that the rights of homosexuals cannot be protected in Malaysia, and homosexual persons should not be forcibly returned to Malaysia. The risk to Mr Amirthalingam is compounded by his identity as a Tamil Hindu,” says their letter to Finley.
Deportation is planned for Mar 6.
A representative from Finley’s office did not respond to our request for more information by press time.