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News release

June 1, 2019 – Toronto, ON – Canada is introducing the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership, which will support more Canadians in privately sponsoring LGBTQ2 refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution.

Starting in 2020, the new initiative builds on the success of the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot, by increasing the number of privately sponsored refugees from 15 to 50 per year. This unique partnership is in addition to the existing refugee programs, which continue to provide protection to LGBTQ2 and other vulnerable people from around the world.

The Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership, established in cooperation with the Rainbow Refugee Society, will encourage more Canadians to support LGBTQ2 refugees and will help strengthen collaboration between LGBTQ2 organizations and the refugee settlement community in Canada.

Canada recognizes the specific vulnerabilities that LGBTQ2 refugees face and will continue to work closely with the community to help them make Canada their home.


“LGBTQ2 refugees have faced unimaginable circumstances just for being who they are. Canada will protect them and help keep them safe. The LGBTQ2 community has been steadfast in their mission in raising awareness of the unique needs of LGBTQ2 refugees among Canadians and helping these most vulnerable people feel safe at long last.”

– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“LGBTQ2 populations around the world face ongoing challenges due to discrimination and criminalization based on their sexual orientation, gender expression and identity. Our Government has demonstrated a leadership role through commitments, such as this initiative, to advance human rights and to safeguard vulnerable people. We will continue to stand up for LGBTQ2 rights both at home and abroad.”

 – Randy Boissonnault, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on LGBTQ2 issues

“Rainbow Refugee and coalition partners applaud this commitment to protecting LGBTQ2 refugees. Together with LGBTQ2 communities across Canada, we create safer migration and supportive communities for refugees at extreme risk. This initiative is an essential priority in a comprehensive strategy that includes a proactive crisis response and accessible, fair inland refugee protection. We commend the government’s collaboration with LGBTQ2 civil society—together we enhance Canada’s ability to play a constructive and critical role in protecting LGBTQ2 lives and rights.”

– Sharalyn Jordan, Rainbow Refugee, Board Chair and Assistant Professor, Simon Fraser University

Quick facts


  • Last year alone, the Rainbow Refugee Society and the LGBTQ2 community sponsored 67 refugees to Canada, and continue to build on this success.
  • Canada will also support the 37 LGBTQ2 refugees that are ready to be privately sponsored this year.
  • The program provides start-up costs and 3 months of support to LGBTQ2 refugees who are privately sponsored by Canadians.
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is providing $800,000 for the next 5 years towards this new partnership.
  • This new partnership builds on the success of the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot, launched in 2011, but increases the number of LGBTQ2 refugees to be resettled, from 15 per year under the pilot to 50 under the initiative.
  • Between 2011 and April 2019, more than 80 LGBTQ2 refugees were resettled through the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot.
  • Canada will resettle 8,500 government assisted refugees and 19,000 privately sponsored refugees in 2019.

Associated links

LGBTQ2 refugees

Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot Program extended