By Tom Godfrey
A female same-sex couple is appealing a decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to throw out their cases after claiming they’d be persecuted for their sexual orientation if they’re sent packing.
The couple, who can’t be identified because they have filed refugee cases, were married in Toronto in 2006 and claimed asylum alleging they’d be in danger due to their sexual preferences if returned to their native U.S. and Australia.
“This decision is very unfair,” said Paul VanderVennen, a Toronto lawyer representing the couple. “They would be very good for this country.”
VanderVennen said the couple is entitled to a pre-removal risk assessment, a final hearing before they have to leave Canada.
He said the women can return to visit since Americans and Australians do not require a visa to be here.
Board member Douglas Cryer was told gay marriages are not legal in Australia or the U.S., where both women would not be able to sponsor a partner.
“There is no persuasive evidence before me that the claimants would face persecution,” Cryer determined. “I find that the claimants are not...persons in need of protection.”
At this time same-sex marriage and consequent sponsorship rights are not internationally recognized rights, he said.
“I recognize that international human rights are not static and that the interpretation of these rights can develop and expand,” Cryer said in a decision released this week.
Cryer said the womens’ responses “were not persuasive, since they were largely unsubstantiated and were not consistent. He said there’s no evidence the women would face risk if ordered to leave Canada.
Cryer, a former director of public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, has openly opposed same-sex marriage and defended the right of churches to denounce homosexuality.