Sexuality, Politics and Refugees: Who gets to belong?

Wednesday, September 23, 7 to 9 p.m.
Guest: Zaki Malak
Moderator: Edward Lee
Venue: Le Cagibi, 5490 St-Laurent (@ St-Viateur)

In many countries throughout the world homosexuality is considered illegal and millions of people face execution, imprisonment, torture, violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The past several decades have seen the decriminialization of homosexuality in Canada, and a slowly growing acceptance towards gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender/transsexual (LGBT) individuals as the laws, cultures and attitudes change. These changes have also led to Canada becoming a perceived safe-haven for LGBT refugee claimants from countries where their sexual orientation often leads to persecution. In this conversation we will discuss some of the realities that force individuals to seek refuge in Canada, the challenges that LGBT claimants experience in the refugee process, and how successful claimants view their lives in their new land.

conversation is organized in collaboration with Ethnoculture, a not-for-profit organization whose mandate is to organize events for and about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual/transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) ethnic minorities, queers of colour, and Two-Spirited people in Montreal. The goal of these events is to help such individuals break free from their invisibility, silence and isolation. This year's event, titled Affirm-Action, takes place Oct. 2-4, 2009.

Born and raised in Egypt, Zaki Malak was forced to leave his country after spending four years in prison due to his homosexuality. He arrived in Canada in August 2006 and was granted asylum in January 2007. He is currently doing a master's degree in Computer Science at Concordia University.

Edward Lee is currently completing his Master of Social Work at McGill and serves as the research coordinator for a community-based queer refugee research project. He is starting his Ph.D. at McGill in the fall. Ed is a member of the Ethnoculture coordinating committee and has been heavily involved in LGBT refugee issues and activism concerning queer people of colour in general.