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Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees- Raymond Helkio - MyGayToronto

Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees
09 February 2018.

Sexual orientation and gender identification are recognized as protected human rights by jurisdictions throughout the world, including Canada (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and most provincial and territorial human rights codes), the European Union (the Charter of Fundamental Rights), and over 65 members of the United Nations that are signatories to the UN Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Unfortunately, other countries do not recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights and, further, persecute LGBT individuals. Iran is one such country, and this has forced thousands of LGBT Iranians to flee their homeland and become refugees, seeking asylum in countries that accept them for who they are.

An overwhelming majority of LGBT refugees flee to neighbouring Turkey, where they file claims for asylum with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The UNHCR assesses each claim and if a claim is determined to be valid, the UNHCR identifies a new country for the refugee based on his/her circumstances. Often that country is Canada or the United States of America. 

Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) provides support and counseling to LGBT refugees. This support includes but is not restricted to financial aid for shelter, food and healthcare. IRQR follows up with their refugee cases from when they leave until they arrive in a safe country and are supportive during the entire refugee process. As of February 2017, IRQR was able to help process more than 1,500 refugee applications since 2005. Approximately 83 percent of refugees who approached IRQR were successfully granted refugee status. They provide consultations to about 90 clients per week including work with LGBT people who currently live in Iran, Iran's neighbouring countries such as Turkey, and in Canada. IRQR has worked closely with UNHCR office, NGOs and the government to assist refugees. 

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