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LGBTQI Refugee Claimants’ Experiences in Canada

LGBTQI Refugee Claimants’ Experiences in Canada

Canada ranks in many international rankings as a leader in human rights and acceptance. However, recent reports have found that LGBTQ+ refugees fleeing persecution in their home countries are facing challenges trying to claim asylum in Canada. LGBTQ+ asylum seekers are subject to a host of risks, including detention and deportation. They may be forced to endure torture or other inhumane treatment if returned home. The ability to claim asylum on the basis of sexual orientation is especially important because LGBTQ+ people face persecution in many countries around the world. 

LGBTQ refugees struggle and face multiple oppressions in Canada, including but not limited to racism, homophobia, transphobia and refugee phobia (Nerses et al. 2022) Read my recent publication on this. They also experience oppression by many others, including health professionals who take advantage of their vulnerabilities.  They also have to manage and process traumatic events and other mental health symptoms.  All these experiences make them vulnerable. 

Finding a LGBTQ+ and trauma and refugee-informed mental health practitioner is important. As an LGBTQ+ individual seeking out mental health services, it’s important to do your homework in making sure you find the right therapist for yourself. Finding a therapist who will provide culturally-competent care is important when it comes to trying to create a safe space for therapy.  A therapist who is aware of LGBTQI+ refugee issues and also able to confront their own biases and stereotypes about LGBTQ+ refugees would make a great therapist. LGBTQ+ trauma and refugee-informed mental health services are becoming more and more a necessity as our communities continue to experience higher rates of trauma. LGBTQ+ people in particular have been historically oppressed and victimized by society, which has led to high levels of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Understanding this historical context is important when discussing LGBTQ+ mental health issues.

If you are a refugee and seeking asylum in Canada on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity, reach out to me for services. If you need help feel free to contact me for services and support. I’ve been working with LGBTQI+ refugees in overcoming their challenges in Canada, and would be happy to talk to you about how I can help you. 


Mego Nerses



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I am an Ottawa-based Registered Psychotherapist and have a full-time private practice. In the past, I worked in social service agencies for many years. I offer individual, relationship, and sex therapy in English, Arabic, and Armenian to adults 18+, and I do not work with minors.

In 2011, I earned a master’s degree in Counselling from the University of Ottawa. I am a Registered Psychotherapist in Ontario (CRPO#001132) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario. In addition, I am a Certified Counsellor with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA#3058). My clinical training focuses on relationship and sex therapy and trauma/PTSD. Since 2013, I have been at Algonquin College as a seasonal professor, teaching courses in mental health and addiction.

I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to publish peer-reviewed articles and contribute chapters concerning Counselling, coming out, and trauma related explicitly to LGBTQ+ refugees and newcomers to Canada. I have presented numerous workshops and continue to offer trainings nationally and internationally on the mental health of LGBTQI+ and SOGIE refugees and asylum seekers.


Professional Work

Early in my professional career, I specialized in individual therapy and served clients with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and grief. Since then, I have taken my clinical work to a higher level and gained more experience in four areas: PTSD and Trauma, Sexuality and Gender Identity, Sex and Relationship Therapy, and Refugee mental health issues. I have received various trainings in these areas since choosing to specialize. As an example, I received training from Division 56, Trauma Psychology, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Global Institute of Forensic Research in writing immigration evaluations for immigration courts. Furthermore, I have completed multiple trainings in trauma/PTSD therapy and relationship therapy (Poly. Kink). I have participated in numerous training opportunities in the field of sex therapy, sexuality, and gender identity. 

I am a LGBTQI+/poly/kink/CNM supportive and informed therapist.

Therapeutic approaches
In addition to Narrative Exposure Therapy for PTSD (NET), I have also been trained in Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) for PTSD and Experiential Therapy and Focusing. I integrate social justice and rights-based principles into my work as a trauma-informed therapist.

In recognition of my dedication to helping LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers in Canada, I received the 2017 Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA).

AffiliationsI have an international affiliate membership with Division 56, Trauma Psychology, the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Global Institute of Forensic Research.


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