At the start of November, Rainbow Railroad, a vital international organisation that helps LGBTQI people escape violence and persecution to find a path to safety, launched its #60in60 Campaign to raise CA $600,000 in the last 60 days of 2020 to save 60 lives.
In its first 30 days the campaign has raised around CA $250,000. Until the campaign ends on December 31st, Rainbow Railroad will be sharing the stories of the brave individuals they’ve helped and explaining the global LGBTQI experience. Stories like that of Amin, who with the help of Rainbow Railroad, fled his native Chechnya after he was kidnapped and tortured by police for two weeks.
A victim of the infamous 2017 “gay purge”, Amin now lives in safety in Toronto with his partner. His story of escape, facilitated by Rainbow Railroad, was shared with viewers on 60 Minutes in 2019, raising awareness about state-sponsored persecution of LGBTQI people in Chechnya. The situation in the republic was also a subject powerfully explored in David France’s feature documentary Welcome to Chechnya, available on HBO Max.
It costs approximately CA $10,000 to help an LGBTQI person find safety, which determined the organisation’s fundraising goal of CA $600,000. The campaign invite people around the world to donate directly or set up their own fundraising page.
“The stakes are high,” comments Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. “We now field nearly 3,000 requests for help a year. At this very moment, we are triaging the cases of hundreds of LGBTQI people around the world who need support right now. We need our community to come together and help us give a chance at freedom to as many people as possible.”
Funds raised will go directly towards helping 60 more people escape life-threatening persecution and to provide support to individuals who cannot travel due to COVID-19 or other limitations. These include the provision of basic essentials like food and shelter, or travel to a safer location within the country.
In 70 countries, LGBTQI people face criminal charges under colonial-era anti-gay laws that can result in life in prison, according to a recent report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). In 11 countries they can face the death penalty. In alarming numbers, lesbians experience sexual violence, trans people cannot live as their authentic selves and gay men are targets of state sponsored campaigns to entrap and torture them. At any given time, Rainbow Railroad is working on hundreds of open cases. Since its founding in 2006, the organisation has assisted more than 900 people escape to safe countries. With this campaign, the organisation hopes to double the amount of people helped by the end of 2022.
Rainbow Railroad is an international non-profit organisation headquartered in Toronto that helps LGBTQI people seek safe haven from state-led violence and persecution in countries where homosexuality is criminalised. The organisation is a community driven response to mitigate the impacts of global persecution directed towards LGBTQI people. Rainbow Railroad is a registered Canadian charity and 501(c)(3) organisation in the United States.