November 6, 2017 8:55 pm
Updated: November 7, 2017 2:05 pm

Honduran man denied refugee status after failing to convince immigration officials he’s gay

WATCH: Honduras man seeking refugee status to stay in Canada can’t convince immigration officials that he’s gay

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A Honduran man who was scheduled to be deported on Tuesday after failing to convince Canadian immigration officials to grant him refugee status on the basis of his sexuality had his order halted on Wednesday.

Josue Elvir arrived in Toronto four years ago on a visa and applied for refugee status, arguing that his life is under threat in Honduras because he is gay.

But his application was denied in 2016 after the Refugee Protection Division ruled that he was not gay.

“I don’t know why they didn’t believe that I’m gay,” Elvir told Global News.

He says he’s afraid he’ll be killed if he’s forced to return to Honduras.

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“Nobody can live there being gay, it’s a homophobic country and everybody knows that,” he said.

READ MORE: Toronto charity helping persecuted LGBTQ community in Chechnya

The Central American country has one of the world’s highest murder rates, with LGBT individuals among those most frequently targeted, according to Human Rights Watch.

LGBT people routinely face violence, and their killings tend to go unpunished due to deep-held prejudices against homosexuality, according to a 2015 report on Honduras from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

On Monday, Toronto City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam took to Twitter to plead with Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale to issue a stay on the deportation order.

Wong-Tam told Global News that Elvir deserves sympathy from Canadian immigration officials.

“It can be a challenge to convince the refugee process… records and proof can be hard for someone who has fled another country,” Wong-Tam said. “We are all concerned about what would happen to his safety.”

Wong-Tam, who is gay, said the Refugee Protection Division should give Elvir another chance.

“Josue has collected a lot of new evidence proving that he is who [he] says he is: a queer man who is afraid to return to a homophobic country,” she tweeted. “Please give Josue an opportunity to show the government all of his new evidence before he is deported. Please do not deport him tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Leaving home a choice between life or death for some LGBT refugees

Goodale’s office couldn’t be reached for comment.

For his part, Elvir is holding on to the faint hope that his case gets the minister’s attention by end of day. He’s clear about what might happen to him if it doesn’t, and he is forced to go back to Honduras tomorrow (Tuesday).

“I am afraid that I will be killed.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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