Immigration Minister Expects Leniency Towards Refugee Claims of Gay Russians

The Immigration Minister of Canada, Chris Alexander, mentioned in a statement that Canada’s refugee board will most likely generously favor the claimants of persecution by gay asylum-seekers from Russia. Mr. Alexander alleged during a press conference in Surrey, B.C., on Monday that Russia has taken the wrong path to restrict the fundamental rights of its gay community, and hence any refugee claims “related to this particular issue will of course be looked at very seriously by our very generous system.”

Russia recently passed a new law banning gay “propaganda,” prohibiting gay pride events and restricting providence of information to minors on “non-traditional” relationships while exposing people with pro-gay views to prosecution. The law is tough enough to even slap foreigners with fines up to $3,000, and 15 days in a Russian jail. A lawyer representing two gay Russian men applying for refugee status in Canada, Rob Hughes alleged that he expects more Russians to make claims based on sexual orientation.

Mr. Hughes, who is known to fight for sexual orientation and gender-based claims, alleged that “it’s quite encouraging … It is very positive news,” while referring to Mr. Alexander’s statement, and added that “people are not feeling safe there.” He stated that “on the other hand, because of the cost and visa requirements to get here, I don’t think it will be floodgates,” explaining that “and certainly with my experience with LGBT refugee claimants … it’s never been like a boat load of people coming here to Canada. It’s always singly, or possibly a couple.”

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