Tuesday, July 28, 2009

9,400 Mexicans Filed Refugee Applications in Canada Last Year; Now Mexican Lesbians Allege Homophobic Persecution

Two Mexican lesbians filed for refugee status in Canada earlier this month, claiming Mexican officials will persecute them if they return home. So many Mexican and Czech nationals have filed refugee applications upon arrival that Canada has restricted visas granted to applicants from those countries. According to this report in The Ottawa Sun, more than 9,400 Mexicans filed refugee applications in Canada last year.

The Ottawa Sun
Mexican lesbian lovers claim refugee status in Canada
by Tom Godfrey

Two lesbians who slipped into Canada before visas were imposed on Mexicans have claimed refugee status, alleging they'll be raped or killed if sent back home. Norma Angelica Gomez, 33, and Alina Gallegos Lee, 34, say their dream is to get married in Toronto and be happy. The couple fled to Canada a year ago, but claimed asylum last March after going public with their love in Mexico. They claimed they were harassed, followed and beaten by Mexican police for expressing their love. "Canada is a good country and we feel free," Lee said yesterday. "At home, we were constantly persecuted for being lesbians."

The couple claim the attacks against them escalated after they were detained and beaten by police last year in Mexico. According to Amnesty International, gays and lesbians in Mexico are routinely beaten, sexually assaulted, raped or tortured by police and soldiers.

The couple's lawyer, George Kubes, said he's sending the lovers for an assessment at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture. "They were beaten up by police and called names," Kubes said. "For a long time the Mexican police have been harassing them." He said the couple always dreamed of getting married in Canada and being happy. "They want to live a happy life in Canada," Kubes said. "This couple is genuinely in love."

Last Monday, visas were imposed by Canada to visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic due to a large number of those nationals staying behind as refugee claimants. Mexico has been Canada's top source of refugees since 2005. Last year, more than 9,400 refugee claims were filed in Canada by Mexican nationals. Of the claims reviewed and finalized last year, only 11% were accepted.

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