Malta continues to fail LGBTIQ+ refugees: 2 new publications

We just published two documents that show how Malta continues to fail LGBTIQ+ refugees. As part of the #Safe4All campaign, we are urging Malta to revise it’s asylum laws because the current regime simply does not offer protection to people fleeing because of their LGBTIQ+ identities and/or behaviour.

For Malta Pride 2022, and as part of our activities building up towards EuroPride 2023 (hosted in Malta), we launched a campaign that focuses on LGBTIQ+ refugees in Malta. The campaign flags that Malta designates as ‘safe’ a list of countries that criminalise in their laws LGBTIQ+ identities and/or behaviour. This is unacceptable, as Malta should not be considering these countries as safe.

Refugee stories

Our first new publication shares stories of some of our recent clients. The refugee stories we are sharing further highlight the challenges faced by LGBTIQ+ refugees in Malta’s asylum procedure. Malta consistently rejects their applications for protection, usually on the basis that their claims are not credible enough. Experience shows us that LGBTIQ+ refugees are extremely hesitate to come out in their first asylum interview.

These are often people who have never come out to anyone, or who have suffered violence, hatred and exclusion because of who they are. In Malta, they are detained in terrible places (Safi Barracks) and taken to an interview where they are expected to talk openly about experiences and feelings that they might only associate with fear and shame. To make matters worse, they often go for these interviews without ever having spoken to a lawyer, social worker, doctor or psychologist.

After not coming out during this important interview, if they are lucky enough to secure a lawyer before being removed, they may file a subsequent application and explain their full stories. It is here that the system further penalises them. Not coming out during the interview, and now claiming to be gay? Not credible. Rejected as inadmissible.

Read about Ahmed, Ismael, Kamil, Firas and Dawit here.

What do other EU Member States do?

Malta is not the only Member State with a list of countries it designates as safe. Yet Malta has a particularly long list. And Malta is one of the few Member States designating as safe a long list of countries that imprison LGBTIQ+ people.

Our second publication looks at this situation and puts Malta in a wider EU context. The data and conclusions, make for very unpleasant reading. The chart below presents (vertically) the countries Malta designates as ‘safe’, despite the fact that they all have laws and practices punishing LGBTIQ+ people and/or behaviour. The coloured tabs show those EU Member States that, like Malta, designate these countries as safe.

We hope these two new publications continue to underline the inhumanity of the ‘safe country of origin’ approach, and how it may easily lead to situations of Malta returning refugees to countries that criminalise LGBTIQ+ identities and/or behaviour.

We shared these documents with the Office of the Prime Minister, the Home Affairs Ministry and the Human Rights Directorate. They will also be widely shared within our national and international networks.

If you’d like to receive more updates on the #Safe4All campaign, just follow our News Updates or get in touch with us.