Documentary tells story of trek to Ottawa by LGBTQ refugees

A new documentary set to be screened Wednesday at the University of Ottawa tells the story of three Gambian refugees who came to Canada because it’s potentially dangerous to be LGBTQ in their country.

Gambia in West Africa considered an unsafe place for LGBTQ people

Radamis Zaky, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa, directed the documentary Rainbow Haven: Welcoming LGBTQ Refugees to Canada. (Ryan Tumilty/CBC )

A new documentary set to be screened Wednesday at the University of Ottawa tells the story of three Gambian refugees who came to Canada because it's potentially dangerous to be LGBTQ in their West African country.

Radamis Zaky, a PhD student at the school, directed the documentary Rainbow Haven: Welcoming LGBTQ Refugees to Canada.

Speaking with CBC Radio's All In A Day Tuesday, Zaky said Gambia is simply not a welcoming place for LGBTQ people.

"The government there was trying to arrest queer people, people who identify themselves as gay or lesbians," he said. "The government was encouraging and is still encouraging people to call the police to arrest gay people."

'They are free'

The three people in Zaky's film made difficult trips to get out of Gambia and eventually to come to Canada after local families sponsored them.

The three refugees in the film are all adapting to life in Canada and feel blessed to be here, Zaky said.

"They are aware they are privileged and they are lucky," he said. "They are free. They can hold hands with their partners. They can kiss their partners in the streets. They are not worried."

The screening will take place in the Faculty of Social Science Building at 11 a.m. Wednesday.