Supporters say gay refugee claimant faces death back home if deported
Olivia Chow is shown in this file photo. (The Canadian Press/Paul Daly)
Published Friday, November 2, 2012 7:47AM EDT
TORONTO -- Supporters are speaking out against the scheduled deportation next week of a Toronto man they fear will be killed if he's returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Augustas Dennie came to Canada two years ago to flee what he says was anti-gay violence that left him in a coma for a week in 2009 and resulted in brain damage.
"They discovered I was gay. I tried to ignore my bullies, but they did not like it," said Dennie, describing his most brutal attack in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. "They took a big rock and hit my head with it. My right side was paralyzed. I was in a coma for a whole week and my friends thought I was dead."
He is scheduled to be deported Nov. 8 after his refugee claim was rejected.
At an emotional meeting Thursday Dennie's supporters said they have seen him grow into a confident person and flourish as a gay rights activist in Toronto.
His lawyer, Pablo Irribarra, says he is waiting for a decision in the judicial review process of Dennie's pre-removal risk assessment and says if Dennie's claim is denied again, their last resort will be to go to federal court.
Irribarra says one of the reasons Dennie's claim was denied is because of questions about a past relationship with a woman, with whom he fathered three sons.
According to Irribarra this relationship existed only as a cover for Dennie because homosexuality is illegal in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Dennie has received a letter of support from NDP MP Olivia Chow as well as members of Toronto's gay and lesbian community.
"I have witnessed too many beatings of my friends who are gay. Some have been murdered. I am so grateful for the help I have been given so far in Canada," said Dennie.
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said she could not comment on a specific case without written permission due to privacy concerns.