Rainbow Railroad receives hundreds of requests for help every year from countries where LGBTQ+ individuals are open targets of violence.
Equal rights are something Dice Bard stands up for every day, it seems contradictory to have grown up being bullied for being a little weird (alright, a lot weird) and then not stand up for other people who are bullied just because of who they are. Many organizations this month will come out and offer donations to EGALE, FCKH8, HRC, and other big organizations focusing on the problems that still exist in our schools, work places, etc.
We have decided to support the Rainbow Railroad for our charity this month, as we feel that while a lot of attention goes to advancing LGBTQ+ individuals here in the West, we ignore huge humanitarian crises in other parts of the world. Perhaps because they are not sexy enough, perhaps due to us not caring enough for people in far away places, or perhaps because we are focused on helping those we see around us who also need our help. The people that we are helping this month need to leave their home because they are the direct victims of violence.
Even if you are one of the people (LGBTQ+ or not) who are feeling a bit of pride fatigue with everyone painting rainbows everywhere and parades of scantly clad models on display on pride floats, this should help remind you of what Pride Month is all about and why we march and why this month exists.
From their FAQ:
HOW DO YOU FIND THE PEOPLE YOU HELP AND KNOW THEY ARE GENUINELY LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL OR TRANS?
We have network of LGBT community leaders and contacts that help us identify and authenticate the requests for help we receive. We will only take cases when we have strong and trustworthy contacts in LGBT communities and through organizations in those countries. Sadly, as most of the people we deal with have endured physical violence the scars are often proof enough.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS RAINBOW RAILROAD?
Every LGBT person we’ve helped with travel support to date has been able to claim asylum in a safe country.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE PERSON ARRIVES?
We connect the people we help to other organizations that can effectively support them through their asylum claim and settlement once they reach their destination. We believe we can be most effective by focusing our efforts on our core mandate of finding a route to safety and allowing our partner organizations to focus on the settlement process.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HELP?
The costs range as every case is unique. Sometimes the individual has the resources to help themselves and they just need information and support from us to make a move. In these cases, the cost to Rainbow Railroad is staff and volunteer time to research and provide information. On average it costs about $10,000 to help someone to safety.
WHAT DO YOU NOT DO?
We do not provide legal advice or use illegal methods for people to travel to safety. We are not a political activist organization so we don’t advocate or lobby for changes to laws in Canada or abroad. We connect refugees to local organizations that help with settlement but we don’t support them once they’ve arrived in a safe-country. Our singular focus is helping people get out to safety.