A look back on some the key moments from 2023…
2023 was a significant year in the fight for 2SLGBTQI+ freedom. Over the last twelve months, there have been major assaults on the global 2SLGBTQI+ community, but there have also been significant advances in advocating for the rights of 2SLGBTQI+ individuals, particularly those experiencing forced displacement.
Here are some of the moments that impacted Rainbow Railroad’s important work, as well as the broader fight for 2SLGBTQI+ liberation, this year.
Announcement of Referring Partnership with the Government of Canada
In June of this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended our annual Pride celebration and made the historic announcement that Canada will be partnering with Rainbow Railroad to identify and refer at-risk LGBTQI+ refugees through the Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) Program.
The Launch of Welcome Corps
In January, the US Government announced the launch of Welcome Corps, a program that connects US citizens or permanent residents with refugees seeking resettlement. Rainbow Railroad is the first queer organization partnering with Welcome Corps to bring at-risk LGBTQI+ refugees to the US through its Communities of Care program. In recent weeks, Communities of Care in Chicago and DC welcomed the first LGBTQI+ newcomers through this program.
The Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda
In May of 2023, the Ugandan President signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law, codifying one of the most extreme pieces of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation in the world. Since the passing of the law, Rainbow Railroad has received a significant increase in requests for help from Uganda. While working towards limited pathways to safety, Rainbow Railroad has been supporting under-resourced partner organizations on the ground to provide vital services including shelter, access to medical services, bail funding and legal aid services, as well as advocacy for the LGBTQI+ community.
Rainbow Railroad and the Human Dignity Trust call on Jamaica to immediately comply with the IACHR decision from 2021
Two years after a landmark decision from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urging the Jamaican government to repeal the country’s homophobic laws, Rainbow Railroad and the Human Dignity Trust called on Jamaica to immediately comply with the top Americas human rights tribunal’s recommendations.
In February 2023, in the face of this lack of progress, the organizations released a joint report, A Caribbean Outlier: Repeal anti-LGBTQI+ laws in Jamaica, documenting the violence, harassment and discrimination faced by LGBTQI+ people in Jamaica over the last two years.
The Supreme Court of Canada Upholds the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement
In June, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it would uphold the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. Through the agreement, asylum claimants arriving at a land port of entry to Canada from the U.S. are deemed to be ineligible for refugee protection in Canada. The Canadian government later made the decision to expand the agreement to apply to unofficial border crossings like Roxham Road. The upholding and expansion of the STCA poses significant barriers to the safety of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and migrants, who, in seeking asylum, are now at greater risk of being deported to their home countries. We continue to call for the repeal of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, and we urge the Canadian government to reconsider the expansion of the agreement and the closure of Roxham Road.
Global Refugee Forum
Earlier this month, Rainbow Railroad advanced the queer agenda at the 2023 Global Refugee Forum (GRF), the second Forum to follow the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees. We have led other LGBTQI+ organizations and allies worldwide to sign on to a joint statement calling on states to create dedicated programs and pathways for LGBTQI+ people at risk and to partner with LGBTQI+ civil society.
Support the Life-saving Work of Rainbow Railroad
Over the last 60 days of the year, Rainbow Railroad is raising funds to help at least 60 people get to safety through emergency evacuation, at least 60 people receive life-saving financial assistance, and at least 60 people receive information services, psychosocial and community support. To support this work, visit https://www.rainbowrailroad.org/60give.