Activist crusades to open Canada’s doors to LGBTQ refugees
Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Same-sex acts are punishable by death in five countries: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, Yemen. Although not officially enshrined in law, executions for same-sex relations have also occurred in: Iraq, ISIL-held territory in Iraq and Syria, Somalia, Nigeria. Same-sex acts are illegal in 76 countries.

When Chris Morrissey learned she couldn’t bring the woman she loved to live with her in the country of her birth, it set her on a decades-long path to help Canada become a country where any two people who love each other can be together and feel safe.

Morrissey, 72, and her partner, Bridget Coll, met in the U.S. but spent the better part of a decade living and working together in Santiago, Chile during the heyday of the Pinochet regime in the 1980s.

Morrissey now runs Rainbow Refugee, an organization that helps people who are persecuted in their own country because of their sexual orientation gain asylum in Canada. But her work in this field started with a much more personal struggle.

When the couple left Chile in 1989, Morrissey returned to Canada and Coll, a dual U.S.-Irish citizen, entered Canada on a visitor visa. The two wanted to stay together permanently, but the law at the time only allowed married, heterosexual couples to sponsor their partners.

“It was pretty clear from the get-go that there was no way that Bridget could immigrate,” Morrissey said, explaining that the only possible avenue was as a skilled worker, and Coll was too old and lacked the education credentials. “We decided the only way to make this happen would be to go to court.”

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Source: By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun