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Major Announcement - Getting LGBTQI+ People to Safety in Canada

Rainbow Railroad is announcing the launch of a new, historic partnership with the Government of Canada.

Major Announcement - Getting LGBTQI+ People to Safety... Major Announcement - Getting LGBTQI+ People to Safety...

Rainbow Railroad is announcing the launch of a new, historic partnership with the Government of Canada, allowing for more LGBTQI+ refugees to safely resettle in Canada. 

On June 8, the Government of Canada announced a landmark partnership with Rainbow Railroad to identify and refer at-risk LGBTQI+ refugees through the Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) Program. Through this program, Rainbow Railroad will act as a trusted partner that can refer LGBTQI+ persons for resettlement to Canada.

It will enable Rainbow Railroad to act alongside agencies like the UN Refugee Agency working with the Canadian government to refer at-risk LGBTQI+ persons for resettlement in the country.

As the number of displaced LGBTQI+ people around the world continues to grow, so does the number of requests for assistance for Rainbow Railroad. In 2023, we have already received over 4,100 requests for assistance, and are averaging 10,000 a year.  Even though we have been able to move many people to safety, many are still waiting for assistance — mainly due to a lack of government partnerships for onward movement. To address this need, we, alongside members of the From Borders to Belonging coalition, have advocated for direct referral partnerships with the Canadian government for several years and have had success on a case-by-case basis. Our collective advocacy with the coalition led to the creation of an LGBTQI+-specific private sponsorship pathway through the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP).  Furthering this momentum, we are delighted that Canada has stepped up as the first country to partner with Rainbow Railroad in a direct GAR referral capacity and hope other countries will follow suit.

The Canadian government has been an important partner of Rainbow Railroad throughout our organization’s history. We worked closely with the federal government in establishing the RRAP program, coordinated with the government on public policy for an emergency response to the crackdown against LGBTQI+ Chechens in 2017, and in 2022 announced an incredible partnership to relocate more than 600 Afghans to Canada. Through each of these opportunities, we demonstrated our credibility and expertise for refugee referrals, and advocated tirelessly for a direct referral partnership to increase the number of people receiving international protection.  

Rainbow Railroad works alongside a community of supporters who champion our mission, and our work will continue to depend on our community’s unwavering support. This historic moment — achieving one of our most significant and enduring policy goals — would not have been possible without continued advocacy supported by our community, the financial support of our donors, and the ongoing work of our partners both domestically and abroad. At the same time, our partnership with grassroots partners and human rights defenders around the world, and with the resilient and courageous individuals who make the difficult decision to leave their homes to seek safety, is the impetus that drives us forward in solidarity.

While this program is still in development, we will share more information about this landmark moment in our history and this essential pathway for LGBTQI+ refugees soon.

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Related Reports:

Three steps the next Canadian government can take to provide more pathways to safety for LGBTQI+ Refugees

Rainbow Railroad Calls for a Direct Referral Partnership with the U.S. Government