|Lesbian couple Norma Angelica Gomez and Alina Gallegos Lee are fighting to stay in Canada. (Dave Thomas/Sun Media)
TORONTO - A lesbian couple, who slipped into Canada before visas were imposed on Mexico, have claimed refugee status in Toronto alleging they'll be raped or killed if sent back home.
Norma Angelica Gomez, 33, and Alina Gallegos Lee, 34, say their dream is to get married in Toronto and be happy.
The couple fled to Canada a year ago but claimed asylum last March after going public with their love in Mexico. They claimed they were harassed, followed and beaten by Mexican police officers for expressing that love.
"Canada is a good country and we feel free," Lee said yesterday. "At home we were constantly persecuted for being lesbians."
The couple claim the attacks against them escalated after they were detained and beaten by police last year in Mexico.
According to Amnesty International, gays and lesbians in Mexico are routinely beaten, sexually assaulted, raped or tortured by police and soldiers.
Their lawyer, George Kubes, said he's sending the lovers for an assessment at the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.
"They were beaten up by police and called names," Kubes said yesterday.
"For a long time the Mexican police have been harassing them."
He said the couple always dreamed of getting married in Canada and being happy.
"They want to live a happy life in Canada," Kubes said. "This couple is genuinely in love."
Last Monday, visas were imposed by Canada to visitors from Mexico and the Czech Republic due to a large number of those nationals staying behind as refugee claimants.
Mexico since 2005 has been a No. 1 source country for refugees. It is expected the flow of refugees will drop now that visas have been introduced.
Last year, more than 9,400 refugee claims were filed in Canada by Mexican nationals. Of the Mexican claims reviewed and finalized last year, only 11 per cent were accepted.