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'Thank God I'm here': Gay Syrian Finds Refuge in Canada

Written by Austin Grabish


First, his friend was beheaded. Then a transgender woman was raped, burned and mutilated. Adam knew he had to leave Turkey, the country that took him in after he had fled Syria. "I think I will be next," he said when he phoned the United Nations in Istanbul, begging for help. Adam, a gay Syrian man, recently arrived in Winnipeg, Canada. Because he fears for his safety and reprisal for speaking out, CBC News is not using his real name. The 26-year-old recalls celebrating when he arrived in Canada. "It was like my dream happened," he said.

Adam left Aleppo in 2011 before starting what became a five-year journey in search of freedom that included relocating to Russia and Turkey. "I'm gay, but this is not acceptable there," Adam said, speaking about Syria and Turkey. He and more than 500 other queer Syrians used a secret Facebook group and underground locations to communicate in Turkey after fleeing to the country from the war in Syria. "From the beginning it was so amazing because we shared our problems, we shared everything." Turkey has taken in many refugees from Syria, but LGBT people are far from free, Adam said.

Violence against members of the LGBT community is common in Turkey, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed concern about attacks on queer people in the country. READ MORE

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