Scotiabank and Rainbow Railroad, an international LGBTQI+ rights organization based in Toronto and New York, are thrilled to announce a three-year partnership to help provide direct assistance to LGBTQI+ people in need globally. The $495,000 investment will also support Rainbow Railroad as it develops partnerships with like-minded organizations both at home and internationally – including in the countries where Scotiabank operates.
Scotiabank’s financial support will be directed towards settlement support and strengthening the ecosystem of partner organizations around the world that defend the human rights of LGBTQI+ people. Individuals supported through this program will receive direct support in countries of origin where they’re experiencing persecution, as well as post-evacuation support in Canada, the UK and the United States.
Currently, there are approximately 70 countries that have laws criminalizing same-sex activities and in many others, LGBTQI+ people face persecution on the basis of their identities. Often their only option is to flee.
At a time when there are more displaced people than ever before, LGBTQI+ people are uniquely vulnerable due to systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia. These factors either displace them in their own country, or prevent them from escaping harm. The demand for support has significantly increased and has outpaced society’s ability to meet. In 2021, 8,506 individuals reached out the Rainbow Railroad for help – 100% more than in 2020. This year, Rainbow Railroad is expecting to receive 10,000+ requests for assistance. These needs are urgent and emergent, and investment could mean the difference between life or death.
“We are proud to support Rainbow Railroad as they help LGBTQI+ individuals facing persecution around the globe safely relocate and resettle,” said Meigan Terry, SVP and Chief Sustainability, Social Impact and Communications Officer. “Through ScotiaRISE, we are investing in programs and organizations that assist newcomer settlement and break down barriers facing disadvantaged groups, while doing our part to create a more inclusive world.”
Scotiabank’s community partnership with Rainbow Railroad is enabled by ScotiaRISE, the Bank’s 10-year $500 million initiative to promote economic resilience among disadvantaged groups. ScotiaRISE is fostering sustainable change by partnering with programs and organizations across its footprint that provide the tools people need to improve their education and employment prospects, adapt to changing circumstances, and increase the likelihood of financial success. ScotiaRISE has supported nearly 200 charities, deployed $26 million in community investments globally in its first year, and continues to invest in community initiatives that are making a difference.
“We are incredibly grateful for, and inspired by, Scotiabank’s commitment to LGBTQI+ communities around the world,” said Kimahli Powell, Rainbow Railroad’s Executive Director. “Thanks to the funding from the Scotiabank, we will be able to support more people in finding the freedom to live openly and without fear, while also providing the support needed within their communities.”
“Our partnership with Scotiabank will help our program officers respond to the increasing volume of requests that we receive and will ensure that we provide support to a record number of individuals,” explained Powell. “We are excited by the prospect of a long and impactful partnership with Scotiabank that will help us to help more people find safety.”
Scotiabank has supported Rainbow Railroad’s work since 2019 and the financial institution’s multi-year commitment builds on their $125,000 leadership gift in 2021.