Ultra Vires


Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


Tracking LGTBQ+ rights around the world for refugee claimants

Leads: Gursheen Cheema (2L), Julia Pimental (3L), and Natasha Williams (3L)

Members: Lauren Di Felice (1L), Caeleb R. Goff (1L), Cassandra Griffen (1L), Julia Horowitz (1L), Sanghun Justin Kim (1L), Luka Knezevic (1L), Fievel Lim (1L), Emily Rand (1L), and Mo Zeighami (1L). 

What are the objectives of the working group? What kind of work are members of the working group engaged in? 

Our working group conducts interdisciplinary research into domestic and international law, culture, and scholarship regarding the rights and treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in different countries. We use this research to compile country reports which are then made available to immigration lawyers working to bring refugee claims in Canada. 

This year, our team is creating resources on Nicaragua, Iran, and Pakistan. Past reports have highlighted the current status of LGBTQ+ rights in Lebanon, Brazil, Russia, Iraq, and more. Our ultimate goal is to have up-to-date reports on conditions affecting LGBTQ+ communities in each country across the globe.

What is the current relevance of the working group? 

As law students studying and living in Canada, we tend to reflexively take the rights and freedoms that we enjoy for granted. LGBTQ+ rights are by no means guaranteed around the world. Our research shows that legal protections for those of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are either weak or nonexistent in many countries. Even where legal protections formally exist, dated cultural sentiments may still present significant challenges. While our reports aim to help refugee claimants, they are also important for raising awareness about the day-to-day realities of LGBTQ+ individuals living in other countries.

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