LGBT+ Refugee and Newcomer Resources


Foundation of Hope has considered the complexity of terms regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, all of which have historical, regional, cultural, class, and activist implications (refer to Mulé and Gates-Gasse 2012). The terms lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) are used internationally by human rights activists, although the use of “queer” is also considered an umbrella term. Use of LGBT+ by FOH is meant to be neither all-embracing nor exclusive, but it respects the notion that gender and sexual identity comprise myriad forms beyond LGBT, such as individuals who identify as transsexual or two-spirited, those that are questioning their identity, those that better identify as intersex or asexual, and those individuals that represent an ally. Foundation of Hope similarly acknowledges that terminology may differ according to region or topic.


Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB): the Government of Canada tribunal responsible for making decisions on immigration and refugee matters. The IRB decides, among other responsibilities, who needs refugee protection among the thousands of claimants who come to Canada annually.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC): a federal agency with the overall responsibility for immigration and refugee matters in Canada (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada, or CIC). It also determines claims for refugee protection made abroad at Canadian embassies and consulates. It is responsible for selecting immigrants, issuing visitors’ visas, and granting citizenship. It is also IRCC that determines the eligibility of all refugee protection claims made in Canada and refers eligible claims to the IRB for a decision.

Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP): a program designed to support the Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) of Canada, their Constituent Groups (CG), Groups of Five (G5) and Community Sponsors (CS) in Canada. The objective of the RSTP is to address their information and on-going training needs as well as the initial information needs of sponsored refugees.

The Canadian Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holders Associationa national membership association for SAHs in Canada established to develop a common national perspective and voice for the Private Sponsorship of Refugee Program (PRSP), which is integral to Canada’s Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program. Refugees who have fled their home countries because of a well-founded fear of persecution or have suffered massive violations of human rights may be eligible for resettlement to Canada. Approval by a Canadian visa officer requires that no reasonable prospect, within a reasonable period of time, exists for the refugee to voluntarily return to the home country, to “locally integrate” in the country of refuge or to be resettled in a country other than Canada.

Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA): responsible for carrying out enforcement functions related to immigration and refugee matters. These include detention, removals, investigations, and intelligence and immigration control functions overseas.

519 Community Centre Newcomer Settlement Services: the 519 Community Centre is in the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village and offers a number of programs for newcomers, including support groups and programs for people of diverse backgrounds within the LGBT+ community.

Rainbow Refugee: a Vancouver-based CG that supports and advocates with people seeking refugee protection based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status. Rainbow Refugee Committee as volunteer-driven that engages in outreach, advocacy and public education on LGBT+ and HIV+ refugee issues. They also provide information to asylum seekers outside Canada.

Rainbow Railroad: a Toronto-based charitable organization that assists LGBT+ individuals in countries where they are under persecution and open targets of violence. Rainbow Railroad primarily volunteer-driven and focuses its efforts on assisting LGBT+ people who have faced physical violence or face an imminent threat of violence, imprisonment, or death.

Capital Rainbow Refuge (CRR): an Ottawa-based organization committed to providing safe haven to sexual minority refugees fleeing persecution. Capital Rainbow Refuge aims to provide a compassionate and welcoming environment where LGBT+ newcomers can build a better life. Through these actions CRR demonstrates the humanity and the value of the lives of people who are LGBT+.

Useful documents

Citizenship and Immigration Glossary of Terms

519 Community Centre’s Among Friends newcomer booklet

Envisioning LGBT Refugee Rights in Canada: Exploring Asylum Issues [Report – Jun. 2012]

Envisioning LGBT Refugee Rights in Canada: The Impact of Canada’s New Immigration Regime [Report – Jan. 2015]

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants Positive Spaces Starter Kit

LGBT Refugee Rights Booklet

Envisioning Mental Health Information Sheet

Envisioning Making a Claim Information Sheet

Envisioning Jurisprudence Information Sheet

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