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Trans people can claim asylum in Canada, despite e-petition

More than 130,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Canada to give transgender and non-binary people fleeing their countries’ harmful laws the right to seek asylum, but it’s already possible in this country.

An online petition asking the federal government to take action, launched in January, has recently gone viral on social media, with tens of thousands of Canadians, as well as celebrities, sharing the petition and calling for signatures.

“We, the undersigned, the people of Canada, are calling on the House of Commons to grant transgender and non-binary people the right to seek asylum in Canada because of elimination laws in their home countries, whatever that may be.” reads the electronic petition.

Despite the e-petition asking Canada to allow asylum claims on already established grounds, it has currently garnered the most signatures of any petition on the House of Commons website, from all provinces and territories.

It was initiated by Caitlin Glasson, an Ontario woman and trans advocate. In An interview with CTV News Kitchener In February, he said he chose electronic petitioning “as a direct approach to the government for something that I think is urgent and important.”

The e-petition points to recent laws and proposed policy changes in the United States and the United Kingdom that seek to weaken protections for trans and non-binary people to allow asylum claims from countries historically considered “safe.”

An LGBTQ2S+ immigration lawyer told, however, that LGBTQ2S+ people can already qualify as refugees, citing the risk of persecution, including discriminatory laws in their home country, based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. .

“This petition is about getting legal protections that we actually already have in Canadian law. We represent many trans and non-binary people in our practice and they are very successful before the Refugee Council,” said Michael Battista. interview “It’s not like only certain countries can claim on certain grounds.”

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal agency responsible for Canada’s asylum policy, Canada has a “proud history of protecting and resettling the world’s most vulnerable groups,” and that includes allowing LGBTQ2S+ people to seek asylum. due to concerns about persecution.

The degree of vulnerability of both resettled refugee and asylum seeker cases is assessed through current flows.

IRCC senior departmental spokesperson Remy Lariviere said Canada is working with agencies such as: United Nations Refugee Agency and the Rainbow Refugee Society to resettle government-assisted refugees, while all eligible asylum seekers are assessed on the individual merits of their situation by an independent tribunal known as the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB).

“In making its decisions, the IRB considers whether an individual has a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group, including 2SLGBTQI+,” Lariviere said in a statement. to

The online petition is supported by Green Party MP for Kitchener Center Ont. Mike Morris, who called the legal changes in the U.S. and U.K. “worrying” and pointed to the proposal’s popularity as a strong sign that Canadians want the government to uphold this country’s welcoming reputation.

“I think it’s very important to remember what Canadians are pointing out to lawmakers in terms of their concerns. And given the number of signatories here, I think that gives us pretty good evidence of that,” he said.

He told he was not aware that the current asylum regime was available to claimants from countries deemed safe, pointing to the Safe Third Country Agreement.

Nevertheless, that cross-border agreement blocks refugee claims from non-U.S. citizens traveling through the U.S. to file a refugee claim in Canada, Batista noted. It does not apply to US citizens.

His office later told that “while it may be technically possible … in practice we are not aware of any cases where anyone has been successful.”

While it is true that citizens of any country, including the US and the UK, can claim refugee status, the issue becomes more complicated when we look beyond the right to claim to the actual success rate. these requirements for applicants from certain countries.

Thanks to a concept known as “domestic flight alternative” Part of the consideration of whether or not someone is at risk of persecution is whether that person can be safely moved to another part of their home country.

“So I think if someone comes from the United States, that question would be, can they go to another part of the country and live safely? said Batista.

For example, the IRB may examine whether it would be reasonable for an American asylum seeker to move to a state such as Minnesota where the governor is most recently; signed the “trans asylum” order protect access to gender-affirming care.

According to Kimahlee Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad, an organization that helps resettle LGBTQ2S+ refugees in Canada, 300 of the thousands of requests for assistance received in 2022 came from the United States, including from American citizens.

“As anti-trans laws rose and Roe v. Wade rolled back, these requests skyrocketed,” he. tweeted late last year.

Based on 2022 Federal statistics published by the IRBA total of 293 prosecutions were filed in the United States, and the majority were either denied or withdrawn. It appears that fewer than 20 claims have been made by citizens claiming to have been persecuted in the UK

Some supporters of the petition also pointed to current shortcomings when it comes to the support that exists for trans individuals in Canada.

“It’s hard to get people to care about improving the lives of trans people here in Canada when things are so much worse in many US states,” tweeted a colleague at the Metropolitan Church of Toronto. Pastor Reverend Junia Joplin.

“I’m not saying don’t sign the petition. I actually signed it. But I’ve lived long enough as an American in Canada to understand how people in both countries think of Canada better than it deserves.”

While e-filing “talks to something that’s already established in Canadian law,” Batista said, he believes there’s still value in bringing attention to the issue and giving the government a chance to clarify that this is valid. grounds for seeking protection.

“Because most people who face persecution based on their sexual orientation, trans status or non-binary status don’t realize that they can actually seek safety in another country under international law on that basis… don’t realize that they can to be a basis for seeking safety in Canada,” he said.

The online petition will remain open for signatures until May 26. Soon after, Morris can table it in the House of Commons, a routine step that occurs with any petition that collects more than 500 signatures. The government is not obligated to act on e-petition calls, but must respond within 45 days.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser’s office is aware of the electronic petition, pointing out the current rules to

Asked if he was concerned the government’s response would do more than point to existing protections, the e-petition sponsor said no.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Glasson said.

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