Although this is mainly a historical website, today I’m hoping to bring the public’s attention to Alvaro Orozco, who had his refugee claim rejected because he couldn’t prove he’s gay.
Orozco figured out his sexuality early, and fled his native Nicaragua — where homosexuality is illegal and anti-gay violence rampant — at the age of 12. He headed for an Francisco. He details his adventures on his website. Suffice to stay, his reception when he got to the United States was not warm — he spent most of his teenage years in government institutions, or under the protection of religious groups (who did not know he’s gay).
Orozco finally reached Canada, hoping for a better reception. Sadly, our one-person refugee board — Deborah Lamont — decided she didn’t believe Orozco was gay based on a videotaped interview. She pointed out that he can’t prove he’s gay. She did not say what she’d consider adequate proof.
Under a law passed several years ago under the Liberals, refugees have the right to an appeal if they are rejected. Problem is, neither the Liberal nor Conservative governments bothered to set up an appeals board, so Lamont’s decree is the law unless the Minister for Citizenship and Immigration, Diane Finley, gets involved. She has the authority to grant him a Minister’s Permit — a special exception.
The NDP’s Olivia Chow has gotten involved in the fight to keep Orozco from going back to a country where he risks jail time or worse, as has former Liberal House of Commons leader Bill Graham. Graham has been deeply involved in the fight, and even provided Orozco a place to stay. But only Finley can help Orozco at this point.
Now to my point: We’re trying to set up a letter-writing campaign, urging Immigration Minister Diane Finley to personally intervene to keep Alvaro Antonio Orozco Hurtado (immigration Client I.D. Number: 5489-8782) in the country, and grant him refugee status.
You can write to the minister, postage-free, at:
The Honourable Diane Finley
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
House of Commons
Please take the time to write the letter. If Finley believes this is an important issue for people, she may be willing to grant that Permit, especially if she expects it to influence the vote next election.
UPDATE: Alvaro Orozco went into hiding when his claim was rejected. Since then, Lamont has rejected a gay Malaysian man who suffered violence at the hands of police, and a gay El Salvadoran who suffered harassment and sexual abuse at the hands of police in his own country. Gareth Henry — the Jamaican gay activist — is still before the board, but given the IRB’s atrocious record on GLBT refugees, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be accepted.