Canada: Rainbow Railroad Station aims to bring persecuted LGBT refugees to Calgary

The Centre for Newcomers is hoping to settle more LGBT refugees in Calgary through a new program, assisted by a longtime gay rights activist who himself fled to safety in Alberta.

The Rainbow Railroad Station will raise money to sponsor people fleeing persecution for their sexual orientation and gender expression around the world. Once they've arrived in Canada, the organization will support the newcomers to settle in Calgary.

The station was formed with support from Rainbow Railroad, an international organization headquartered in Toronto, but will operate independently in Calgary. The Toronto-based group will refer cases of LGBT people, who have escaped life-threatening situations, to the Calgary station.

Being gay, transgender, bisexual or lesbian is criminalized in various ways in more than 70 countries worldwide. Other places lack protections for LGBT people, leaving them to face harassment, discrimination and threats.

"Those people were completely invisible, so we were motivated with their stories and with their lives and everything they're going through," LGBT+ settlement services manager Boban Stojanovic told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday.

Stojanovic arrived in Calgary in 2016 after fleeing persecution in Serbia, where being gay is legal. He and his partner were prominent activists, and they had become targets for violence. So he knows first hand the difficulty LGBT people face in finding a safe home in Canada.

Beyond the difficulty of fleeing their situations, LGBT refugee cases can be challenging to build once they've arrived. People must prove their sexual orientation and that they faced danger because of it. Read more via CBC