REFOCUS BY GERARD VELDHOVEN
In an effort to bring attention to the plight of the world’s LGBT community I bombard readers of my column with stories of discontent, discrimination and homophobia that remain rampant in our society, regardless of equal rights. However, once in a while we hear of wonderful accomplishments such as a recent story of an Iranian gay couple who faced possible arrest and perhaps execution in their homeland.
The two men received assistance from a Halifax organization, the Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia.
Moving to Canada is a great relief for the two men as they begin a new life in a country where equal laws are in place. Of course, as they will discover, to be treated equally will be a challenge at times. Generally, we live in one of the more accepting nations in the world. As has been reported, Navid and Hadi were greeted at the airport by supporters and a picture in the Chronicle Herald showed smiling faces as I am sure they were very relieved to be out of Iran.
The former Iranian President once declared that his country does not have homosexuals therefore it’s not a problem. Navid told reporters that, “Homosexuality in Iran is Illegal and punishable by death.”
As they settle in Halifax they will soon discover a huge support system that includes the Rainbow Refugee Association, the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project and many other organizations and individuals that will be of tremendous assistance while settling into their new surroundings in peace and away from persecution because they are gay. They also are able to legally marry should they wish to do so. They may adopt children or through biological means begin a family, all under legal circumstances and protection in housing, education and medical needs, regardless of sexual orientation.
In Canada we have thousands of same-gender families with children, just like many countries in Europe. Many Canadians are not aware of this fact, however, your next door neighbour may be such a family.
The point is that this Iranian couple will be free at last. I am certain that the majority of Canadians will welcome them with open arms. Their opportunities are multifold and so their lives will be filled with the happiness that eluded them in Iran. Welcome Hadi and Navid. Comments and information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.