Short timelines are unfair—and not necessarily more efficient.

Under Bill C-31 refugee claimants must submit a writen account of their claim within 15 days. Refugee hearings will be scheduled for 30 days (for DCO nationals) or 45 days later.

We agree with the goal of reducing the time claimants spend waiting. Currently, refugee claimants have 28 days to prepare their case before submitting it to the Refugee Board. Then, they wait, often for up to two years, for a hearing. These long waits are a direct result of failing to adequately staff the Refugee Board. Instead of addressing this problem, Bill C-31 legislates unrealistic timelines.

Working with lawyer who is familiar with QLGBT refugee claims is critical to fairness.We scramble to get people connected with lawyers and legal aid in 28 days. With only 15 days, many claimants will be submitting their account before talking with a lawyer.

Good decisions require good evidence. Proving homophobic or transphobic persecution is particularly complex as it often occurs out of the public eye, and goes unreported. 45-60 days is not enough time to gather letters, medical and police records from overseas and have them translated.

Our members have fled countries where they have been under surveillance, arrested, imprisoned, extorted, and for some, tortured, because of their sexuality or gender identity.  Many have been physically and/or sexually assaulted, often by police or other officials. Survival has required keeping silent, being vigilant and remaining hidden. Imagine the challenges of speaking about and proving a sexuality or gender identity you have kept hidden to survive.

Shame, fear and the impacts of trauma on memory, interfere with people being able to make their case. People have been refused refugee protection because of minor inconsistencies, or late disclosure of their sexual orientation. People who faced real danger have been deported.  This will happen more under Bill C-31.

Refugee decision makers state that sexual orientation and gender identity based cases are some of the most difficult decisions they face.  We fear the vast majority of QLGBT claimants will be inadequately prepared for hearings, resulting in poor decisions and unfair rejections. Poor decisions will mean more appeals—neither fast, nor efficient.  In the UK, over 90% of sexual orientation or gender identity based claims go to appeal. It is far more efficient to give claimants adequate time to prepare themselves and their documents.


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