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Gay Syrian refugee recalls his life of secrecy and fear

Last Updated Jan 22, 2016 at 11:35 pm EST

It’s been a journey of mixed emotions for a gay Syrian man I met at a North York hotel where government-assisted refugees are being temporarily sheltered.

This man tapped me on the shoulder asking for help. He allowed our cameras to roll but did not have the confidence to reveal his face after living in secrecy and fear for so long.

Through Mona, a translator, we were able to communicate. “He’s very worried about the homosexuals back home and the incremental torture.”

His name is Osama and his story is heartbreaking.

The translator was almost brought to tears as she relayed his words from Arabic to English. “He feels very sad because his partner who he’s been with for 10 years in secrecy was not allowed to come with him, even though they filed the papers together as a family.”

Osama believes the files were purposely separated in Lebanon because they were gay.

I asked Osama if he had been contact with his partner since arriving in here. “Of course, I talk to him every day. He’s in one country, I’m in one country but our hearts are together. We were not given the same consideration given to families but we are a family too – this is my kind of family.”

Osama said he’s blessed to be here but worries about his love and believes his partner’s file is now stuck in a two-year backlog.

“I have no will to live alone,” he said. “We’ve been together for 10 years.  You eat, you sleep, you walk, you laugh with someone for 10 years and all of the sudden you are separated.”