Providing protection to LGBTQ2 refugees

News Release

May 10, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – The Government is committed to protecting the rights of LGBTQ2 individuals, and has a long history of providing protection to the world’s most vulnerable groups, including persons in the LGBTQ2 community.

Today, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the renewal of a cost-sharing agreement for $50,000 with the Rainbow Refugee Society (RRS), which came into effect April 1, 2017. RRS is a Vancouver-based community organization which encourages Canadian LGBTQ2 communities to sponsor refugees who are persecuted because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.

The Government of Canada continues to support this cost-sharing agreement with the RRS where IRCC provides partial income support via the Resettlement Assistance Program directly to LGBTQ2 refugees that are privately sponsored through this initiative.

This funding supports these refugees’ initial costs when they first arrive in Canada, including start-up funds to buy clothes and basic household items and provides partial income support for the refugees’ first year in Canada. The RRS mentors sponsorship groups and partners with Sponsorship Agreement Holders to sponsor these cases.

The RRS sponsorship groups provide income support as well as orientation, accommodation, basic household needs, food, clothing and emotional supports for the duration of the sponsorship period.


“We are very pleased to be continuing our partnership with the Rainbow Refugee Society. Our government will continue to encourage refugee sponsorship groups and LGBTQ2 organizations across the country to privately sponsor refugees from abroad who face violence and persecution due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“It is critical that, in Canada, our government demonstrates leadership for people who are persecuted for their sexual orientation. When we honour the differences, identities, and genders of every individual, we are actively supporting rights and equality for all.”

– Randy Boissonault, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 Issues

“Rainbow Refugee is proud and honoured to continue working with IRCC to encourage Canadian communities to act in solidarity with LGBTQ2 and HIV+ refugees. Globally, LGBTQ2 and HIV+ persons face violent persecution. Canada has a vital role to play as a place of relative safety and respect for those who need to flee sexual orientation, gender or HIV based persecution.”

– Chris Morrissey (Founder) and Sharalyn Jordan (Chair) Rainbow Refugee Society

Quick Facts

  • The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program began in the late 1970s, following the Indochinese refugee movement. More than 288 000 refugees have been privately sponsored since that time.

  • In 2017, Canada will welcome 16 000 privately sponsored refugees, roughly triple the average admissions before 2015.

  • As of March 2017, 81 refugees have been privately sponsored through this initiative with the RRS. The RRS has worked with 49 sponsorship groups and seven Sponsorship Agreement Holders in these efforts.

  • Budget 2017 proposes $3.6 million over three years, starting in 2017-18, to establish an LGBTQ2 Secretariat within the Privy Council Office, to support the Government-appointed Special Advisor to the Prime Minister in developing and coordinating government initiatives on LGBTQ2 issues.

Associated Links


Contacts for media only

Bernie Derrible
Minister’s Office
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Chris Morrissey
RRS Founder and Sponsorship Lead

Sharalyn Jordan
RRS Chair and Inland/Settlement Lead

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