Umer* is from Pakistan. However, for the past few years, Umer has been living and working in Canada on a temporary work visa.
Umer is a gay man, and enjoys the freedoms and opportunities Canada offers to sexual minorities. Pakistan does not offer a safe space for people like Umer to be open about their sexuality. There are no protections for people who identify as gay, lesbian or bi-sexual in Pakistan. Same-sex relations are prohibited, with the penalties available against those found guilty including death by stoning. While these charges are rarely prosecuted, police and other state actors routinely extort those believed to be gay, lesbian or bi-sexual for money and sexual favours.
Pakistani society has one of the lowest rates of tolerance towards homosexuality in the world, with only 2% thinking that homosexuality should be accepted. Frequently, non-state actors such as religious groups, political parties and journalists openly call for violence against sexual minorities. According to Umer, to be a gay man in Pakistan is to live in constant fear of being ostracized, jailed or worse.Recently, Umer received notice that he would be unable to extend his work permit or obtain Permanent Residency status in Canada. Umer will have to return to Pakistan shortly, and resume a life of fear and persecution. However, after living in Canada, and realizing how gay men can not only live openly, but with dignity and respect, Umer wants to remain.
For this reason, Umer has filed a refugee claim with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. In order to succeed in his claim, Umer is required to prove that he is gay. This will be a difficult task due to accomplish. Umer has been vigilant in hiding his sexuality for most of his life. Only since being in Canada has Umer opened up about his sexuality with others. However, only to a select few, as Umer still fears reprisals in both Pakistan and Canada if he were to be completely open (which has only increased since realizing that he may have to return to Pakistan).
Umer needs to marshal significant evidence to prove his sexuality, and the consequences he could face if he returned to Pakistan and his sexuality is revealed. He needs money for legal fees and expert evidence. Unfortunately, Umer does not have the funds to pay for these expenses in the time period that he needs to pay for them. As a result, Umer is turning to you to help him raise the funds needed to help him stay in Canada, and enjoy the rights and freedoms that Canadians often take for granted.
Help Umer stay in Canada by donating towards his legal fees and expenses.
*In order to protect the refugee claimant’s identity, his name has been altered for the purposes of this campaign and only limited, non-identifying personal information has been provided.
 United Kingdom Home Office (UKHO), Country Information and Guidance Pakistan: Sexual orientation and gender identity, at 1.3.7 – 1.3.10.
 Ibid, at 2.2.3.
 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), Research Directorate, Pakistan: Situation of sexual minorities in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, including treatment by society and authorities; state protection (2010-2013)
Featured Image: “DUBLIN 2015 LGBTQ PRIDE PARADE [WERE YOU THERE] REF-105976” by William Murphy licenced under CC SA 2.0.