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El-Farouk Khaki honoured with 2007 CBA SOGIC Hero Award

El-Farouk Khaki honoured with 2007 CBA SOGIC Hero Award
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For Immediate Release
August 11, 2007

CALGARY - Toronto lawyer El-Farouk Khaki has been chosen as the Canadian Bar Association's (CBA) 2007 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference (SOGIC) Hero Award for contributions made in the area of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people.

Khaki maintains a practice in immigration and refugee law focusing on refugee claims on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and HIV/AIDS, and is a prominent activist for the LGBT community.

"El-Farouk's efforts in representing members of the LGBT community who are looking to embrace the freedoms available in Canada have helped many members of our community escape persecution in their homelands," said Leah A. Lis, co-Chair of the SOGIC. "Combined with his volunteer work in breaking down barriers for the gay Muslim community, he's a hero in every sense of the word."

Khaki has been involved in a number of high-profile refugee cases, including that of Alvaro Orozco. He has represented many gay, lesbian, and transgender clients from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Africa, including sexual minorities, women with HIV, and female-to-male and male-to-female transsexuals.

In 1991, Khaki, an openly Muslim and openly gay man, founded Salaam, the world's first social support group for LGBT Muslims. In 1995, he pioneered a refugee claim on the grounds of homosexuality for a gay Venezuelan man. The case received intense media coverage and ended with sensitivity training to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.

Khaki was also one of the founders of the Muslim Canadian Congress and the Canadian Muslim Union, the first mainstream Muslim organizations to support gay rights. Khaki also advises a number of community organizations, including the HIV-AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario, the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and Gays and Lesbians of African Descent, among others. He chairs the board of Africans in Partnership Against AIDS.

Khaki received his law degree from the University of British Columbia in 1986.

The SOGIC Hero Award recognizes contributions made in the cause of equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and two-spirited people. The Award will be presented at the Touchstone Reception, held as part of the 2007 Canadian Legal Conference in Calgary, on Tuesday, Aug. 14 at 4:30 p.m. MDT in the Glen 201 room of the Telus Convention Centre. The event is open to accredited journalists who have registered with the CBA Media Centre.

The Canadian Bar Association is dedicated to improvement in the law and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.

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CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association, Aug. 10-14,Telus Convention Centre, Glen 208 Room, 403-218-7856; E-mail: hannahb@cba.org.

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