Discrimination Against LGBT Refugees in Canada

From UBC Wiki

LGBT is an abbreviated term referring to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and an indication of their sexual orientation. Canada is a LGBT friendly country and has accepted LGBT refugees who are no longer able to live their country of origin in which homosexual is socially unacceptable and imposes social exclusion and punishment; as a consequence, they seek migration to Canada since 1991.[1]   

LGBT population in Canada

The survey conducted by the Statistics Canada indicates 3 percent of Canadian population claiming LGBT identity in 2014.[2]

LGBT refugees in Canada

In 2005, the Civil Marriage Act claims “Whereas the courts in a majority of the provinces and in one territory have recognized that the right to equality without discrimination requires that couples of the same sec and couples of the opposite sex have equal access to marriage for civil purposes”,[3] thus Canada addresses that LGBT couples have a right to get married in Canada and this is a crucial reason for LGBT persons whose origin is out of Canada seek migrating to Canada. Moreover, Canada provides further economic, educational, health care assistance to LGBT refugees in order to assure their rights. 

Homophobia in Canadian Society

Canada as a country advocates gender diversity, legalizing the same-sex marriage across country, but this does not necessarily lead to mutual-understanding toward LGBT identity among Canadian citizens. LGBT refugees often experience the number of hardships after migrating to Canada.

In IRB, Immigration and Refugee Board

In a process of seeking asylum, those who non-Canadian LGBT persons experience prejudice and discrimination by IRB which stands for the Immigration and Refugee Board. In order to obtain permission for asylum, they have to prove their sexual identities whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The example case that a gay person proves his sexual orientation, he wore the clothes which meet the Western narrative image of gay. Therefore, LGBT people's dress is supposed to go along with the Western-standardized image of LGBT costume.[4] IRB workers inquire of “inappropriate and often traumatizing question on a person’s sexual practices and make the claimants reveal their private feelings about having sexual intercourse with a member of the same sex.”[5] Therefore, the workers in IRB are not well-prepared to cope with the problems which LGBT immigrants confront.[6]

In workplace

LGBT persons, especially LGBT refugees have lower salary compared to heterosexual persons due to the discrimination and injustice treatments of stereotypical and religious idea in the workplace against them.[7] This leads them to find the LGBT friendly workplace and to engage in non-profit sector, simultaneously, it eventually leads to lower income expectations.[8] Furthermore, without a document of refugee identification, this makes difficult to approach their economic stability, heath care and educational system. Since refugee people have different social insurance number from others, some employers break the policy, paying less than legalized minimum wage.

In communities of originating country in Canada

Not only receiving discrimination and prejudice in social services by the governmental and provincial jurisdiction, but also, the LGBT refugees are concerned that they may experience anti-homosexual prejudice when encountering their diaspora community in Canada which tends to engage in unjust treatments and violences as well as the country of origin does against them.[9]

Racism Against LGBT Individuals in Canadian Society

Racism in the social service and Canadian LGBT communities

The Canadian LGBT policies tend to be based on Western normative agenda with white, homosexual and middle-class, but overlook the racial identity of the LGBT refugees. In addition, some LGBT refugee confront the verbal discrimination in a direct way by the social service worker who asks a question of legitimacy of claiming refugees. In regard to health care service, with restricted coverage, LGBT individuals are not able to reach the necessary mental care and the counsellor who shows well-understanding of cultural differences and a lack of knowledges about discrimination that LGBT refugees encountered in the originating country.[10] Within LGBT communities in Canada, the individuals with color are danger in the exposure to sexual and racial discrimination by white LGBT peoples in Canada, thus, it creates further marginalization in the community.[11]

Findings through Intersectional Lens

Many LGBT individuals choose to migrate to Canada so that they can avoid social exclusion and discrimination against transgender in the country of origin, however, homophobia, the western-narratives of LGBT image and anti-immigrant can be seen in Canadian society. This explains LGBT persons who immigrated to Canada will have potential risks of the exposure to sexual, racial and anti- immigrant discriminations within Canadian society. Viewing through intersectional lens, LGBT persons with color are not only positioned at the intersection of gender, race, and culture, but also they are put themselves at the intersection of sexual minority, western-narrative LGBT culture, anti-immigrant in Canadian society and LGBT communities. As for possible solutions, in order to mitigate their stress and loneliness and to expand their network, the civil servants should approach cultural capabilities and provides further assistances to construct their network in Canada, which allows them to have relationships with people who encounter same hardships of exclusion and accessing to a job because of LGBT refugees.[12]In addition, the government needs to change the refugee policies for them to fit their economic and educational circumstances because LGBT refugees are not compatible with other refugees who seeks migrant to Canada because of war and military conflict.


  1. Kahn, Sarilee; Alessi, Edward J (July 2018). "Facilitating Mental Health Support for LGBT Forced Migrants: A Qualitative Inquiry". Journal of Counseling & Development. 96: 316–326. doi:10.1002/jcad.12205.
  2. Statistics, Canada (June 25 2015). "Sexual Orientation". Retrieved July 19 2019. Check date values in: |access-date=, |date= (help)
  3. Government of Canada. "Civil Marriage Act". Justice Laws Website. Retrieved July 19 2019. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. Munro, Lauren; Travers, Robb (2013). "A bed of roses?:exploring the experiences of LGBT newcomer youth who migrate to Tronto". Ethnicity and inequalities in heal and social care. 6: 137–150.
  5. Forbear, Katherine (2014). "Queer Settlers: Questioning Settler Colonialism in LGBT Asylum Processes in Canada". Refuge. 30: 47–56.
  6. Yan, M.C.; Chan, S (2010). "Are social workers ready to work with newcomers". Canadian Social Work. 12: 16–23.
  7. Levine, M.P.; Leonard, R. (1984). "Discrimination against lesbians in the workforce". Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 9: 720–748.
  8. S.W.Ng, Eddy; Scweitzer, Linda (2012). "Anticipated Discrimination and a Career Choice in Nonprofit: A study of Early Career Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender(LGBT) Job Seekers". Review of Public Personnel Administration. 32: 332–352.
  9. Munro, Lauren; Travers, Robb (2013). "A bed of roses?:exploring the experiences of LGBT newcomer youth who migrate to Toronto". Ethnicity and inequality in health and social care. 6: 137–150.
  10. Fobear, Katherine (2014). "Queer Settlers:Questioning Settler Colonialism in LGBT Asylum Processes in Canada". Refuge. 30: 47–55.
  11. Munro, Lauren; Travers, Robb (2013). "A bed of roses?: exploring the experiences of LGBT newcomer youth who migrate to Toronto". Ethnicity bd inequality in health and social care. 6: 137–150.
  12. Kahn, Sarilee; Alessi, Edward J (2018). "Facilitating Mental health Support for LGBT Forced Migrants: A Qualitative Inquiry". Journal of Counseling & Developmment. 96: 316–326.