Effective Settlement of LGBTQIA+ Newcomers

Carol Smiley

Carol Smiley

There are many LGBTQIA+ people whose lives are at risk in countries around the world, who are facing violence and persecution.  In February, PRSN’s Skills Development committee offered a training workshop to provide sponsors with a better understanding of how to support LGBTQIA+ newcomers by learning more about the unique challenges they face.


Layota Nugent, director community engagement, Rainbow Railroad, addressed the global state of persecution and why people are forced to flee from home due to sexual violence, job discrimination, human trafficking, mental health concerns, denial of healthcare and other social services. She pointed out that the humanitarian protection agencies and governments tend to make it laborious and retraumatizing for LGBTQIA+ people to make successful refugee claims, which is a requirement for resettlement.  She recommended sponsors continuously educate themselves about the realities of this community, talk about the need for such sponsorship and fundraise to make it happen.


Sophia Lowe, executive director of Capital Rainbow Refuge/Arc-en-Ciel de la capital, Ottawa, and her colleague Mauricio Oviedo pointed out the unique challenges in settlement around empowerment and a rights-based approach.  They pointed out the importance of freedom of choice to be who one is and do what one chooses to do, and how much one decides to share. They emphasized that sponsorship is a lifeline to creating safe pathways and that it is not necessary for sponsors to be members of the LGBTQ community themselves.


An LGBTQ sponsor in Toronto, Bill Croson identified resources and agencies available to ensure efficient and effective settlement.  He addressed the importance of safe spaces and why we cannot assume that all identified safe spaces are safe. He shared information about how to find settlement resources around housing and health while emphasizing that trust is a critical factor in LGBTQIA+ sponsorship.