Skip to main content


December 1st 2015


July 2024

Call for Nominations – The 519 Annual General Meeting 2024

June 2024

MEDIA ADVISORY: Communities to honour Torontonians lost to AIDS at the 40th AIDS Candlelight Vigil on June 25

Green Space Festival 2024: Accessibility

Neighbourhood Information: Green Space Festival 2024

May 2024

The 519 Pride Events Calendar 2024

April 2024

MEDIA ADVISORY: The 519 joins Rainbow Week of Action to march for LGBTQ+ refugee rights

November 2023

TDoR 2023: Statement from 2Spirit, trans, and non-binary youth / Déclaration des jeunes bispirituels, trans et non-binaires

September 2023

The 519 Board of Management Candidates 2023/24

July 2023

Notice of Annual General Meeting 2023

Call for Nominations – The 519 Annual General Meeting 2023

May 2023

[Media Advisory] The 519 Presents 'Enough is Enough!' a panel discussion addressing anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate

Pride 2023 at The 519: Upcoming Programs and Events

Green Space Festival 2023: Neighbourhood Information

[Media Advisory] Toronto’s queer and trans communities to protest against anti-2SLGBTQ+ hate on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBT)

March 2023

Trans Day of Visibility: How can we commit to being visible allies?

[Press Release] The 519 to Honour Esteemed Author John Irving with Ally Award

International Women's Day 2023: Women, Life, Freedom

February 2023

Re: Sentencing of Colin Harnack in murder of Julie Berman

December 2022

The Trial of Julie Berman

In Solidarity with Ontario's Drag Performers

November 2022

City of Toronto, The 519, and Homes First Society announce Toronto’s first dedicated shelter for 2SLGBTQ+ adults

In Solidarity; A Community Vigil Honouring Colorado Victims and Survivors 

In Solidarity with Club Q

Public Statement on Trans Day of Remembrance (TDoR) 2022

Newcomer & Refugee Programs at The 519 – Advancing LGBTQ Human Rights


“Arriving in Canada three years ago, I struggled with culture shock and feeling like an outsider. The 519 gave me a comfortable place to connect with other gay newcomers dealing with similar issues, as well as a place where I could volunteer and be part of programs like Among Friends. Thanks to The 519 I feel included, I feel familiar.” — Illya Tinker, program participant, proud 519 member

More than a decade ago, we made a commitment to support LGBTQ newcomers and refugees in Canada. One of the fastest growing programs at The 519, ‘Settling In’ facilitates networking opportunities, nutritious meals, cultural experiences, settlement counselling, and vital referrals for the hundreds of LGBTQ newcomers who meet weekly at The 519. Currently our settlement team are scheduling well over 1000 visits from settlement clients each year. Our LGBTQ Newcomer Community Services Coordinator, who supports refugee claimants, sees over 500 individuals each year and 80% of the clients we work with are successful in their refugee claims.

Our program works with LGBTQ newcomers over a number of years and creates opportunities for volunteerism and mentorship that help them to integrate as new Canadians. Seventy percent of program participants are Refugee Claimants. They come from over 72 countries and speak more than 50 languages. The remaining thirty percent are Convention Refugees, Permanent Residents and Live-in Caregivers. 

Recent changes made to Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Act in 2012 has created a rapid application process that means an even greater number of LGBTQ newcomers who have resided in Canada for less than a year did not have enough time to get the support necessary to prepare for their hearings. While preparing for their hearings, they are also potentially experiencing additional challenges, such as emotional, social, and physical health issues. Our work with these communities clearly show that newcomers are facing far more complex issues than in previous years which means we need to expand our programming and do even more to respond to the needs we see everyday. 

The realities facing LGBTQ people internationally seem even more urgent at this moment in time. The Canadian government is currently working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan and Lebanon and the Government of Turkey to identify ‘vulnerable’ Syrian refugees for resettlement in Canada. The government also has several thousand applications in processing for Privately Sponsored Refugees (PSRs) and Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) under way, which will continue to be processed as part of this initiative. 

LGBTQ identified individuals have been designated as ‘vulnerable’ and will be prioritized in the selection process as the Canadian government moves ahead with its commitment to settling 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February, 2016. It is impossible to predict how many of those sponsored will identify as LGBTQ through the initial screening process and/or when they arrive for processing in Canada. Currently, The 519 is scaling up its capacity to meet the initial intake needs of LGBTQ Syrian refugees seeking settlement to ensure that they are able to access culturally appropriate and responsive service upon their arrival.

As we set our future program priorities we remain grounded in the principles of social justice for all. We also recognize that our program services must include a better understanding of the experiences of violence, trauma and re-traumatization, isolation and poverty faced by many in our communities as we continue to work to advance LGBTQ human rights in Canada and around the world. 

You can support our Newcomer & Refugee Programs by making a donation to The 519 today.

Get our newsletter and special updates

Up Next:

The 519 calls for proposals from community-based arts educators