Refugee board to reconsider case of lesbian deserter from U.S. army

A lesbian who deserted from the U.S. army and fled to Canada must have another chance to plead her case for refugee status, the Federal Court ruled Friday.

OTTAWA — A lesbian who deserted from the U.S. army and fled to Canada must have another chance to plead her case for refugee status, the Federal Court ruled Friday.

Judge Yves de Montigny says the board erred last February when it rejected Bethany Smith’s bid for refugee status.

Smith says she fled the army because she was harassed and threatened by fellow soldiers over her sexual orientation. She told of hundreds of threatening notes pinned to her barracks door, including a death threat.

She testified she was stationed at the same base where, in 1999, a gay male soldier been beaten to death as he slept. The note threatened her with the same fate.

She said she tried to get out of the army by revealing her sexual orientation. Under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the U.S. military, homosexuals can serve as long as they forgo sexual acts and keep their orientation to themselves. Those who speak up are normally discharged. But Smith said the army shrugged off her confession, saying the paperwork to discharge her wouldn’t be ready until after her next rotation to Afghanistan.

The judge said the board must reconsider her case because it unfairly dismissed evidence suggesting gays face harassment and brutality in the American military.

New Democrat MP Olivia Chow, welcomed the decision, but said such court cases shouldn’t be needed.

“The taxpayers can save a lot of money if Stephen Harper would just follow the will of Parliament and allow war resisters to stay in Canada,” she said.

“There’s a small number of them, they’re winning in court. It’s costly. It’s a lot cleaner if there’s special program that allows the ones who have filed claims to stay in Canada.”

In June 2008, the House of Commons passed a resolution urging the government to allow American military deserters to stay in Canada. The government has ignored the motion.

Just Posted

Pine Lake shooter loses conviction appeal

Cory Lavallee sentenced in 2016 to nine years in prison for attempted murder

Police say a woman in the Red Deer area may be in danger

Public’s assistance is urgently requested

Cannabis legalization won’t impact one Red Deer pot dispensary

Nothing changes for Compass Cannabis Clinic in Red Deer despite legalization

Cannabis retail store will open later in October in Red Deer

Two cannabis stores coming to downtown Red Deer

Neighbours drop opposition to Red Deer County communications tower

Communication tower to be located in Balmoral Heights

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

B.C. man accused of swimming naked in Toronto shark tank arrested in Thunder Bay

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — Police have arrested a B.C. man who is… Continue reading

Most Read