Rainbow Railroad is a Canadian charitable organization that helps LGBT individuals escape violence and persecution in their home countries.
In more than 70 countries worldwide, LGBT citizens live in fear for their freedom, their safety and, in some cases, their lives. Their governments not only sanction brutality against them but often carry it out. There is no obvious or easy escape path, but for those lucky enough to hitch a ride, there is something called the Rainbow Railroad. Like the Underground Railroad, the Rainbow Railroad helps those fleeing danger get across borders to safety. And like its historical namesake, this network shrouds its operations in secrecy.
The organization was formed in 2006, with its name and concept inspired by the Underground Railroad. It received charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency in 2013, and also maintains an organization based in New York City to issue tax receipts to American donors. In the past, they have helped individuals from the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East relocate to safer countries in Europe and North America.
After the revelations about the anti-gay purges and concentration camps in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad began to mobilize emergency efforts to help LGBT people get out of the region in collaboration with the Russian LGBT Network.
Rainbow Railroad received the 2018 Bonham Centre Award from the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto for its work helping LGBT refugees.
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