As I mentioned, the majority of the LGBTQ refugees don't have their families' support, because they're not out to their families. That is one of the challenges that they mentioned to me numerous times. I was a refugee myself when I came to Canada on May 10, 2006, as a government-sponsored refugee—I was in Turkey myself—and it is true, as they said, that in Iran they have to deny their sexual orientation in order to survive, and in Turkey suddenly they have to prove their sexual orientation in order to be safe. It's a big paradox, and it's very difficult. Emotionally, it puts them in a very awkward situation.
First, because of the Turkish media propaganda, they believe that Turkey is very safe because of all the temples and bars and everything that they can see on TV. When they arrive in Turkey, they think they are safe, so sometimes they may mention that they are gay, or maybe when they want to rent shelter, a place, or anything, they don't deny their sexual orientation. They want to be comfortable, like how we live here, but it makes them more vulnerable, because Turkey is not a welcoming country. The people, especially in those cities where the LGBTQ refugees are residing, such as Denizli, Eskishehr, and Yalova, are very conservative.
According to the Turkish Ministry of the Interior, the refugees cannot live in metropolitan cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir. They have to go to smaller cities in order to be monitored, and it puts them at risk. Emotionally, they cannot do anything. Their families don't support them because usually they don't want them to leave. They keep asking them why they left Iran, and they have no valid response. They just have to keep lying. As a result, they don't get anything. They don't get any support.
Also, they cannot work, because as refugees in Turkey they are not allowed to work, so they don't have money. They have to survive somehow. As a result, they need to have a cash job, and they then again become a victim of abuse, this time by the employers. When the employers know that they don't have rights, they don't have protections, and they cannot make any complaints, they abuse them. We have had several reports from people. Also, the pay for these jobs is very low. Sometimes they have to work for 13 hours and are paid 10 Turkish lira, which is like $5 Canadian. It's not even slavery....
All of these difficulties make them sick. Whenever I've talked to some politicians and also to friends, I tell them that when they arrive in Canada, sooner or later they will be sick, even after a year or three years. They become ill. Imagine it and put yourself in their shoes. Imagine that you have to live in a country where you don't speak the language and you don't know anything about the culture. You cannot go back to your country. You just have to wait for three years. This waiting time makes you emotionally sick and vulnerable.