A gay Syrian couple seeking refuge from discrimination and war in their hometown are now able to live in Canada after local sponsors and supporters intervened on their behalf
“I want to ride a roller coaster for the first time,” Danny Ramadan told cbc.ca. “I would also like to give back to the community that brought me here. It’s just beyond (my dreams).”
Ramadan and his partner who has requested anonymity because he’s not out to his family are are among the first refugees from the war in Syria to arrive in Vancouver, according to cbc.ca.
The ongoing Syrian war has created over 3 million refugees with more than 100,000 Syrians having lost their lives in the escalating conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule. In the past year, Canada pledged to take in 1,300 before the end of 2014.
However, many gay men in Syria are threatened not only by the Syrian Army and Islamist organizations and rebels but also from family members, says Human Rights Watch.
Gay people even before the war have been the target of “honor killings” with family members viewing same-sex relations as a disgrace and the persecution is their bid to overcome that public disgrace.
Before coming to Canada last week, the couple had been living in Beirut, Lebanon. They are eager to start a new life in Vancouver with their rescue dog, Phoebe.
By coming to Canada, the couple hopes to escape the homophobia they faced in Syria and Lebanon.
“Here, I have the ability to be myself finally,” says Ramadan. “I have been gay-bashed in the Arab world. My family disowned me at times. But here, I feel like I have a family somehow,” he told cbc.ca
Their coming to Canada was made possible by a group from Vancouver who helped in bringing the couple by raising funds, working through the application process and lobbying MPs and MLAs.
Rainbow Refugee, an organization that advocates for refugees fleeing persecution because of sexual orientation, was also instrumental in bringing the couple to Canada.
Canada has identified gay men, children, religious minorities and women facing sexual violence as being particularly vulnerable among Syrian refugees.