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Sudbury rally held for queer immigrant facing deportation

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A rally was held in Greater Sudbury on Tuesday in support of a queer immigrant facing deportation to India.

Tarun Godara fled India seven years ago at the encouragement of his brother, arriving in Sudbury, Ont., on a student VISA, graduating from Cambrian College with a diploma in art. (Supplied/Tarun Godara)

The protest, organized by Sudbury Pride, was held outside of MP Viviane Lapointe's office in support of Tarun Godara.

While Godara applied for a VISA multiple times, the changing policies resulted in rejected applications and hired a lawyer to fight his case. Last month, he received a deportation notice for April 16.

"I don’t think it deserves for me to lose a life I've created here and a family that I have," Godara said.

"I don’t wish to go back to being a closeted homosexual, just the way I was."

Matthew Morin from Sudbury Pride, says the hope is that Lapointe can relay Godara's story to Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller.

"Canada is such a diverse cultural place, especially Sudbury. We're growing, becoming more beautiful and unfortunately, our government isn’t catching up as quickly as it should," said Morin.

"We need our government to step up and protect everybody, everybody around the world deserves to live comfortably and feel safe in their own skin."

Morin told CTV News that Godara has already added so much to Sudbury, as one of the artists behind a number of murals downtown.

"We need to protect the people who are already here," he said.

"Tarun has a life here, he has a family here, he has friends, he has his community, and we need to keep him here. He's part of my community."

A rally was held in Greater Sudbury on April 2, 2024 in support of a queer immigrant facing deportation to India. (Amanda Hicks/CTV News Northern Ontario)

A spokesperson for Lapointe said she was not available, but provided a statement.

“I understand the anxiety and uncertainty that Tarun must be experiencing,” the statement reads.

“Today is a testament to the support Tarun is receiving from our community. My office will continue to work with Tarun. Due to privacy laws, I cannot comment further on specific cases.”

Godara left India to move to Sudbury seven years ago and he said he is now able to express himself openly as a gay man. While in India, he told CTV News that he faced prejudice and experienced sexual assault for being gay. While India lifted its ban on homosexuality in 2018, Godara said it is not safe for individuals in the LGBTQ2S+ community and fears for his safety if he has to return.

Shiannah Grayson-Belanger came out to support Godara.

"As an autistic person I find it so hard to make friends and he was really nice to me," she said.

"He's a really kind and genuine person and he deserves to be here."

Godara said Sudbury is home and that his lawyer has reached out to the Canada Border Services Agency to request an extension for the deportation order.

"I'm scared," he said.

"If the Minister of IRCC can't hear my words I hope they hear the other words of other people speaking on my behalf. I hope it matters and I hope it ends soon with a positive result."

Rita Olink from TG Innerselves Sudbury attended the rally and told CTV News more support is needed for the LGBTQ2s+ community.

"We're illegal in so many countries and persecuted in so many more," they said.

"To have a person being deported that’s LGBTQ+ for no other reason than a bit of paperwork – that’s; that’s insane."

A rally was held in Greater Sudbury on April 2, 2024 in support of queer immigrant Tarun Godara who is facing deportation to India. (Amanda Hicks/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Godara said he's willing to be a part of more rallies – but is desperately hoping the matter can be resolved.

His friends and family have created a petition and GoFundMe page to try to help.

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