Applicants persecuted for their diverse sexual orientation or gender identity or expression (SOGIE)
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Applicants may be persecuted for not conforming to a socially accepted sexual orientation or gender identity or expression (SOGIE). Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) applicants are included. Find all SOGIE groups at Internationally recognized SOGIE definitions.
This page contains guidance about the processing of resettlement applicants with a diverse SOGIE.
Key messages: An applicant with a diverse SOGIE may endure specific experiences that demonstrate their reason for persecution. Actions are required to ensure they are treated without discrimination and receive the needed support throughout their processing and after arrival in Canada.
For more, consult Chairperson's Guideline 9: Proceedings before the IRB Involving Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression.
On this page
- Assessing persecution due to diverse SOGIE
- Interviewing with sensitivity (diverse SOGIE)
- Recording legal and alternate identities (diverse SOGIE)
- Recording multiple relationships (diverse SOGIE)
- Potential for Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugee (BVOR) Program (diverse SOGIE)
- Potential for Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program (diverse SOGIE)
- Document changes on arrival in Canada (diverse SOGIE)
Assessing persecution due to diverse SOGIE
Background research about the country of origin can help to assess the credibility and eligibility of applicants or persons associated with them.
Researching persons persecuted for their diverse SOGIE
Research in the country of nationality or habitual residence may include
- selected practices applied to enforce standards of public morality or public order, even where same-sex relations or sexual or gender non-conforming behaviours are not criminalized
- laws that criminalize or suppress non-conforming sexual orientations, sexual behaviours, or gender identities and expressions (whether enforced or not)
- experience with challenges faced by applicants with a diverse SOGIE
Assessing persons associated with diverse SOGIE groups
Applicants may be persecuted when just perceived as having a diverse SOGIE due to their association with persons with a diverse SOGIE. Examples may include
- persons who do not fit the appearance of a socially accepted norm in their country
- persons who express themselves in a way that is not a socially accepted norm
- persons who advocate for or report about the rights of persons with a diverse SOGIE
- persons who provide support for persons with a diverse SOGIE
Interviewing with sensitivity (diverse SOGIE)
Many applicants may conceal their diverse SOGIE due to mistrust or fear based on previous experiences of stigmatization and violence. Applicants may be uneasy in answering intimate questions and uncomfortable with their own SOGIE.
Guidelines for conducting an interview with an applicant for resettlement can be followed. Consult Resettlement from overseas: Conducting interviews.
In addition, when interviewing an applicant with diverse SOGIE, consider the following:
- Ensure the applicant feels safe and free to talk openly.
- For example, applicants may feel uncomfortable discussing their SOGIE openly in front of an interpreter and may not answer questions in a straightforward way.
- Be sensitive. As applicants may still be coming to terms with their sexuality or finalizing their transition, they may not be fully comfortable with their identity.
- Avoid questions that may make an applicant feel as if they are being targeted.
- Avoid questions that are too intimate or private.
- Explain that some questions being asked may be difficult to answer; however, they are being asked to ensure they can get the best support after arrival in Canada.
- Be aware of cultural nuances of terminology used.
- For example, “homosexual” is a derogatory word in some countries.
- Ask the applicant about their preferred way for being addressed in public.
- Address the applicant in public places (such as waiting rooms) with their publicly known gender, name or pronoun so that their true status is not revealed.
- Do not rely on stereotypes and assumptions about LGBTI persons.
- Ask whether the applicant lives with people who are not aware of their diverse SOGIE. Contact the client on a direct line if this is a concern.
- Be cautious about details recorded on file, as family sponsors may submit a request for access to information (ATIP) and come across information that was specifically withheld from them by the applicant.
- Assure applicants that Canada is an open and welcoming country, and that they can request to change their documentation to their preferred identity and obtain further support from services to help with their integration in Canada.
Example interview questions for persons persecuted for their SOGIE
When assessing whether an applicant suffered from persecution due to their diverse SOGIE, questions may include
- Why did you leave your country?
- Did you feel excluded from your community? Why?
- Tell me about your relationship with your family.
- How would you describe your relationship with your friend or roommate? (if applicable)
- Are you hoping your friend can join you in Canada? Why? (if applicable)
When assessing an applicant’s SOGIE, suggested questions could include
- Do you feel that people treat you differently? Why do you think they treat you differently?
- Do you feel different from other people? Why do you feel you are different from others?
- Do you prefer people refer to you as a man (he), a woman (she) or in another way (they)?
- Do you think of yourself as a man (he), a woman (she) or in another way?
- What travel documents do you possess and what is the identity shown on them?
- What kind of person are you attracted to?
- What makes you special in the way you identify or express yourself?
Recording legal and alternate identities (diverse SOGIE)
The identity or gender presented by an applicant can vary in documents and in interactions at different stages. Record details to prevent troubles for the applicant during travel:
- Record the legal identity shown on passport or, if not available, use
- refugee registration form from referral organization
- refugee status document
- another credible document (when nothing else is available)
- Record any preferred or alternate identity as an alias in the Global Case Management System (GCMS).
- Share identity variations found on travel documents with all partners and all applicable airports involved with travel to Canada.
Recording multiple relationships (diverse SOGIE)
Applicants may have recorded the existence of one partner on their application, but actually have a relationship with another partner, for example, an applicant who is married to a spouse of the opposite sex but has a same-sex partner who plans to join the applicant in Canada.
Considerations to avoid obstacles in departure:
- Ensure legal relationships are assessed and recorded on file and on travel documents.
Consult Assessing the relationship between spouses or common-law partners.
- Based on beliefs and practices towards persons with a diverse SOGIE in the host country, avoid recording information that may complicate departure.
- Gender and names should be consistent with what the country of asylum understands and recorded in GCMS.
Potential for Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugee (BVOR) Program (diverse SOGIE)
Applicants persecuted for their diverse SOGIE are typically well suited for the Blended Visa Office-Referred Refugee (BVOR) Program, as they have minimal needs, and as there are many LGBTI sponsor groups in Canada.
Consult Blended Visa Office Referral.
Potential for Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program (diverse SOGIE)
Unlike most applicants with diverse SOGIE, trans and intersex applicants in the process of transitioning may benefit from extra support under the Joint Assistance Sponsorship (JAS) Program to help them during their transition.
Consult Joint Assistance Sponsorship.
Document changes on arrival in Canada (diverse SOGIE)
Border officials in Canada must review any alias information recorded in the system and follow established procedures for changing identity documents.
Consult Biometrics collection and screening and identity management.
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