Rainbow Railroad is a Toronto-based charitable organization that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals escape from violence and persecution in their home countries.
Currently, there are 72 countries where being gay is illegal. In the past, they have helped individuals from various countries stretching different continents like the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. They have ensured that these individuals relocate to safer countries in Europe and North America where LGBTQ is more openly accepted.
The organization was formed in 2006, and the name comes from underground railroad systems that were used to save African American slaves back in the day. As far as how they are saved and the concept behind it, it is quite similar. The goal is to bring individuals from the LGBTQ people to safety without others knowing they identify as part of this special community.
Since 2006, the Rainbow Railroad has helped LGBTQ people from 38 different countries around the world and find them a forever home and safe. It has also received charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency in 2013.
One of the major reasons we decided to bring this organization up is not just about the organization itself but because a high level of the applicant is from the Middle East, and that is concerning.
The high majority of the applications are coming from the Middle East and that is because the Middle East has one of the most severe laws when it comes to LGBTQ individuals and anyone that supports, or protects them.
To apply to seek protection from Rainbow Railroad is fairly simple, they ask for your first and last name, the country you are located in, and your story in as much detail as possible.
In the Middle East, anyone from the LGBTQ community is served the harshest punishments, some being stoned, hung, shot, and even lashed in public.
Referrals come from an international network of LGBTQ groups and safe houses. Then Rainbow Railroad secures visas and pays for flights to safety all of it is funded, not by any government, but with private donations of cash, and also airline miles.
The executive producer at Rainbow Railroad carefully reviews each case, and best directs each individual to safety.
Rainbow Railroad has a strong belief that the governments around the world should ensure and enforce laws and policies that protect citizens of the LGBTQ community and enable them to live in freedom, safety, and prosperity of the prospective regions that they are from.
The organization believes that they still have a long way to go and that they are willing to change societies’ minds one country at a time. Until that time arrives they are going to do everything in their favour to provide immediate assistance and solutions to individuals of the LGBTQ community who are facing threats to their lives and safety in their conservative countries.