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Canada Denies Visas for 10 Ugandan Gay Activists Invited to Toronto's World Pride Conference

Concerned that they would seek asylum upon arrival, Canada has denied visas for 10 Ugandan gay activists hoping to attend the World Pride human rights conference in June, the Star reports:

MugishaGay rights advocates say the decisions by the Canadian visa posts in Nairobi and London speak to the hypocrisy of the Stephen Harper government, which, in February, joined other Western nations in condemning Uganda for passing one of the world’s harshest anti-homosexuality laws.

“We are shocked and appalled. These individuals from Uganda are some of the most courageous heroes,” said Andrea Houston of #ENDhatelaws, a coalition founded in response to homophobia/transphobia across the globe, amid the controversy over anti-gay laws passed in Russia prior to the Winter Olympics.

“They are here to share their stories and have every intention to go home after the conference, because they all have work to do in Uganda. The assumption is they are here to claim asylum. The question is: Why can’t they, coming from the most hostile place in the world to LGBTQ people?”

The visa denials began in April.

Well-known Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha is the only one who will come to the conference, and has a multi-entry visa according to the paper.

A review of the visa decisions showed the Ugandan’s applications were rejected for a combination of reasons: lack of travel history, family ties in Canada and in Uganda, and insufficient funds for the trip.

In eight of the applications, officials concluded they did not believe the applicants had a legitimate business purpose in Canada. In six, the officers said the applicants did not have the money to “carry out your stated purpose in going to Canada or to maintain yourself while in Canada and to effect your departure.”

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Comments

  1. KInda feels like 1939.

    Posted by: Bubba | May 23, 2014 10:12:55 AM


  2. I understand the concern. And quite frankly, I would expect them to seek asylum too. And I would support it.

    Posted by: Will | May 23, 2014 10:18:45 AM


  3. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!! I live in one of the best countries in the world (Canada), yet we're run by a conservative government so...we're not perfect. Hopefully they'll change their position on this matter.

    Posted by: Gigi | May 23, 2014 10:20:14 AM


  4. @ "KInda feels like 1939. "

    I think I get your reference, BUBBA. You're referring to the countries (including the United States) that sent Jewish refugees back to Germany to be murdered.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | May 23, 2014 10:20:34 AM


  5. That's the lovely Harper government in action

    Posted by: aki | May 23, 2014 10:21:14 AM


  6. shame on canada

    Posted by: Moz's | May 23, 2014 10:37:36 AM


  7. @GIGI, I agree.

    The Harper government - just like Bieber - is the exception to Canada! We are a people of peace and embrace diversity.

    This hypocrisy in welcoming (and encouraging)immigration to Canada, yet refusing asylum for gay Ugandans speaks volumes of the Harper government: It ain't Conservative, it is nothing wright-wingnuttery at its worst, and detrimental to the good reputation of our nation. So very anti-Canuckian!

    Posted by: Philly | May 23, 2014 10:59:38 AM


  8. *it is nothing BUT right-wingnuttery

    Posted by: Philly | May 23, 2014 11:00:54 AM


  9. They should apply for a US visa. The progressive Obama administration will issue visas to poor Ugandans with no travel history right away.

    To those who never applied for US or Canadian visas, it was sarcasm.

    Posted by: AG | May 23, 2014 11:04:57 AM


  10. It's a galling mistake. This is not what Canada is about, Mr. Harper. Andrew Houston of Toronto has been making an impassioned case for this - it's World Pride and we need their voices here, and we need to do what Canada has traditionally done for centuries - been a beacon of hope and freedom and justice to those still living under oppression.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | May 23, 2014 11:22:44 AM


  11. WTF, Canada?!

    Posted by: Richard | May 23, 2014 11:35:57 AM


  12. Didn't you all know? The West MUST accept asylum seekers from anywhere and everyone. Yup, it's our job to fix all the world's problems. We must police the world. We must give our money away in billions of dollars of aid to countries that hate us and everything we stand for. "Asylum seekers"? Yup. Illegal immigrants? Sure. Let's just be the world's dumping grounds forever.

    Posted by: Janit | May 23, 2014 11:49:58 AM


  13. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 1:59:17 PM


  14. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 1:59:32 PM


  15. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 1:59:54 PM


  16. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 2:00:17 PM


  17. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 2:00:33 PM


  18. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 2:00:54 PM


  19. Asylum is the least we can do. Cutting off all aid to government entities is also what we should do.

    As a 15th grandson from the mayflower and all other direct ancestors here before revolutionary war, I say we are strongest as a country when we welcome the people who want to be here are go through great hardship to try. Less plutocrats buying a ticket in instead.

    Posted by: steve talbert | May 23, 2014 2:03:28 PM


  20. Unfortunately, no election any time soon.

    Sorry, world.

    Keep in mind, this government was elected by about 39% of the vote.

    Posted by: Randy | May 23, 2014 3:35:12 PM


  21. In the case of 6 of them were they did not have the funds necessary to effect their departure, that normally means, there is no ticket purchased yet to leave Canada or the funds are not present to buy a ticker back on arrival. Going straight by the border security policy that means denying them visas. i have not explanation for the others adn personally would want them to come and claim asylum

    Posted by: thrutch | May 23, 2014 3:35:47 PM


  22. In the case of 6 of them were they did not have the funds necessary to effect their departure, that normally means, there is no ticket purchased yet to leave Canada or the funds are not present to buy a ticker back on arrival. Going straight by the border security policy that means denying them visas. i have not explanation for the others adn personally would want them to come and claim asylum

    Posted by: thrutch | May 23, 2014 3:36:55 PM


  23. Canada's refugee system is horribly backed up by people abusing the system, refusing to accept just anyone with no background check is not a bad thing. Go through the proper channels to get here, our economy can't support an unending stream of asylum seekers

    Posted by: Jmac | May 23, 2014 3:41:11 PM


  24. Canada's refugee system is horribly backed up by people abusing the system, refusing to accept just anyone with no background check is not a bad thing. Go through the proper channels to get here, our economy can't support an unending stream of asylum seekers

    Posted by: Jmac | May 23, 2014 3:41:33 PM


  25. @PHILLY,

    They have not been refused asylum. They haven't even asked for asylum. It's an unfortunate outcome of their visa applications, but they haven't been denied because the government thinks that they are seeking asylum, per se.

    When people apply for a Temporary Resident Permit (TRP) the visa officer has to apply certain criteria to it.

    These include that the visit has a legitimate purpose. Some were refused on this basis, though I think they have a legitimate purpose.

    Your application for a TRP has to satisfy the officer that your visit is indeed temporary and that you will return to your country when the visit is done. This is a judgement call. They weigh certain criteria. If you have a history of visiting other countries and then returning, that's a good sign, but some of these applicants didn't. If have ties (relatives and maybe friends) in Canada, it's also bad because you may have more reason to stay in Canada than return. If you don't have a job or some kind of property or obligations in your home country it can also be bad, because you may not have motivation to return.

    You also have to have the means to support yourself during your visit (so you don't work illegally in Canada, for one thing). Some applicants were also found lacking in this aspect.

    While I would like to see all of these applicants at the World Pride events, the visa officers have to follow the rules. They did not apply for refugee status, they only applied for temporary visitor status and they need to qualify for that to get visas.

    I know a lot about this because my common-law husband has been staying with me in Canada for 4 years as we prepare and await the outcome of a permanent resident application. Even though he is American and thus exempt from getting a visa, he has to meet all of those requirements to stay with me.

    Posted by: Neil | May 23, 2014 5:49:57 PM


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