Supporters to rally for gay man in Sudbury facing deportation

Fierte Sudbury Pride will hold a rally on Tuesday in support of a member of the local LGBTQ+ community facing deportation.

Tarun Godara arrived in Sudbury as an international student from India in 2017. Since then, he has worked as a visual artist, art instructor and in the hospitality sector, and found a community that embraced and accepted him.

During his time here, he has been able to explore and accept his sexual identity, a freedom not experienced in India, where he is being forced to return. After a series of failed attempts to renew his work visa and then being turned down by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in an application filed to remain in Canada on the basis that he would be subjected to danger and persecution if he were to return to India, Godara secured legal representation.

Godara’s legal team has asked for a deferral and although not immediately granted, a meeting is scheduled with the officer in charge of his case on April 16 in Mississauga.

In the meantime, the rally in support of Godara will be held Tuesday from noon to 2 p.m. in front of Sudbury MP Viviane Lapointe’s constituency office. Godara said he’s been in touch with the MP office and has been told that they’ve been in contact with the office of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The rally is meant to put pressure on the federal government, says one of the rally organizers, who is also a member of Fierte Sudbury Pride’s board of directors.

“We hope to get a comment from the Liberal government who claims to support the LGBTQ+ community,” Cory Gaudette told The Sudbury Star. “The deportation of Tarun Godara is an LGBTQ+ issue. They do not think his life is at risk with deportation, but we do.”

Gaudette, who also goes by the name Emma Daniels as a drag performer, says he is extremely concerned for Godara’s safety if deported to India.

“As an openly queer, fem-presenting man myself, I’m very cautious about where I travel depending on a country’s law and tolerance towards LGBTQ+ peoples,” he said. “India is somewhere I would never go to based on the treatment of queer friends who have left India and their negative experiences of being queer Indians.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Godara’s lawyer Douglas Elliott in a previous interview with The Sudbury Star. Elliott is a partner in the law firm of Cambridge LLP in Elliot Lake and is well known for his class action work on ground-breaking constitutional cases concerning same-sex partners and LGBTQ+ rights.

He said that his community faces “state persecution” in India and it’s only getting worse.

“In Canada, we get this idea that things are getting better everywhere, especially for LGBTQ people, and it is getting better in some places, like Greece,” Elliott said in an interview in March. “But in some countries, things are not getting better, they are getting worse. They are getting worse in Russia, Hungary and Turkey and they are certainly getting worse in India.”

Godara said he is trying to take one day at a time.

“It feels like you’re fighting a system that doesn’t support you,” he said. “It is not a good time to be an immigrant in Canada.”

Gaudette hopes his friend can be afforded the same rights he has as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Canada has allowed me to express my fem side without boundaries and I am so thankful for that,” said Gaudette. “I know that if that was taken away from me, I would be shattered.”

Friends have set up a GoFundMe campaign for Godara to cover legal fees and living expenses: www.gofundme.com/f/tarun-fighting-deportation.

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

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X: @SudburyStar

, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star

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