Ali and Ashraf* are two vulnerable LGBTIQ+ individuals, who faced sexual violence in their countries of origin as well as during their journey to Europe. They were referred to us by their social workers and doctors who they grew to trust over the course of a few months. Both Ali and Ashraf came from what are deemed to be “safe countries“** of origin.
On arrival in Malta they applied for asylum and were passed through a fast-tracked procedure due to the fact that they came from “safe countries”. The procedure was carried out when both, although extremely vulnerable, were being detained in Safi Detention Centre. They were not given any information prior to the asylum interview. Consequently, they did not mention that they are LGBTIQ+ individuals in fear of the consequences of making such statements, being unware of Malta’s position on the matter, and also in fear that they could be at risk of harassment or violence should the other detainees find out.
This year we’ll be marching with a message that shows solidarity with so many of our beneficiaries who would love to march…but simply do not dare to: LGBTIQ+ refugees.
Our work brings us in touch with several men and women who have fled their countries because of the persecution they fear due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We guide them through Malta’s asylum process, in particular by explaining the importance of explaining their LGBTIQ+ identities. Of course, this is extremely challenging. There are several personal, social and community obstacles along the path to revealing such personal stories to a Government Case Officer who might be mostly interested in knowing:
“What were you before you were gay?”
Case Officer, Office of the Refugee Commissioner.
It is even more challenging, at times, to reveal such identities to members of their own communities on whom they rely for almost everything.
For Malta Pride 2019 we want to remind Malta, and Malta’s LGBTIQ+ community, of the diversity within this very community. That LGBTIQ+ includes persons with disabilities, young and old, refugees, migrant…and so many more colours.
We want to reassure those LGBTIQ+ refugees who dare not march for fear of being identified, labelled, shamed, excluded or threatened, that we proudly march for them.