A gay Egyptian man has been granted refugee status in Canada following the introduction of new guidelines for LGBT+ claimants, CBC reports.
Samer Habib arrived in Canada in 2011 as a student and feared that he would be tortured or detained because of his sexuality if he was deported back to his home country, Egypt.
He appeared before the Immigration and Refugee Board just as new guidelines for LGBT+ asylum seekers have been put in place.
"It's revolutionary," Habib’s lawyer Bashir Khan said. "It basically puts LGBTQ people and their refugee claims at the same level as a political opinion or a religious persecution case, meaning that their sexuality is not put on trial the way it has been up until today."
Habib and his partner Giovanny Penner were “ecstatic" when they found out his claim had been successful.
"We started crying and we hugged each other, and everyone in the room started getting emotional," said Habib. "We've been up long nights, sleepless nights, with the case. Definitely we will be enjoying our rest tonight, that's for sure."
Habib says that after his hearing at the Immigration and Refugee Board, he has hope for other LGBT+ people seeking asylum in Canada.
“I’m very optimistic for next cases to come that people are going to be treated fairly in terms of their claims, and with respect,” he said. “And that’s what they should expect. Just because you’re a refugee claimant doesn’t mean you should be humiliated or degraded, but you deserve that level of respect from the decision-maker, and I’m glad to see that."
Habib went on to stress that anyone in a similar situation should have hope: “I’d like to say to other people in situations that might be like mine or similar, is that you just have to have hope. Trust yourself. When I first started, I didn’t think that I was going to make it to this period, to the end, you know?”
He concluded: “There’s so many struggles throughout the way, people will tell you at the very beginning that you shouldn’t be doing this, it’s not the right thing. But you have to trust yourself and trust your guts.”