To the editor:
Re: "Hanging in Limbo," March 30.
The right for people to seek asylum if they fear persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or social group, which has been interpreted to mean gender and sexuality, is an inalienable right enshrined in international and Canadian law. The proposed law, Bill C-31, would violate this right and would have serious detrimental effects on both the legal system and on the people who exercise their right to seek protection in Canada.
One need only look at the United States, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe to see what has happened when they have decided to "tighten up" asylum provisions: abject poverty for asylum seekers, families ripped apart and a dramatic increase in xenophobic violence and rhetoric from society at large. This is the response waiting for people who have fled their homes only to find destitution and exclusion in a place which promises freedom, safety and a better life-none of which responds to the reasons for which refugees are fleeing persecution in the first place. There is no such thing as a "safe country" for people who fear for their safety.
Although the changes proposed in Bill C-31 are cloaked in the name of "protecting" Canadian interests, the fact is this law runs counter to Canada's identity, because it directly erodes human rights, including basic liberty and equality rights as guaranteed under the Charter.
These changes will undoubtedly cause serious damage to Canada's proud reputation as a protector of rights and human dignity.
Shayna Plaut, Liu Scholars Program UBC's Liu Institute for Global Affairs, Roma Community Centre/Global Queer Research Cluster