Activist countries

NGO proposes bill to downgrade ‘safe’ countries that criminalize LGBTIQ+ people

The Aditus Foundation, the humanitarian NGO, has proposed a bill to amend Maltese asylum law to declassify as ‘safe’ countries that criminalize LBGTIQ+ identities or behaviour.

The #Safe4All legal initiative was launched on the occasion of Malta Pride 2022 and in the run-up to Euro Pride Valletta 2023.

The document that was presented to the Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality, Rebecca Buttigieg, proposes that Algeria, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Chile, Egypt, Ghana, Jamaica, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia to be removed from the list of “safe” countries under Maltese asylum legislation.

Aditus explained that refugees from these countries are rushed through the asylum process and denied basic guarantees, such as the ability to appeal a negative decision.

“Malta has declared a number of countries where LGBTIQ+ people risk criminal sanctions, simply for living out their identity, as ‘safe’ countries,” the NGO said.

He said Malta approved of the state’s persecution of LGBTIQ+ refugees choosing to ignore institutionalized “discrimination, imprisonment and forced labour”.

Aditus added that some of the countries mentioned also penalize NGOs and activists, with volunteers being daily threatened with arrest and imprisonment.

“If Malta is to be a global beacon for LGBTIQ+ rights, including hosting Euro Pride 2023, it cannot continue to ignore the plight of LGBTIQ+ refugees who reach its shores. Malta must be #Safe4All.

The NGO said its lawyers were currently assisting a gay man from a “safe” country who had applied for asylum in Malta. He said the man was raped in his country and on his way to Malta but was ordered to leave Malta and return home as his complaint was described as ‘manifestly unfounded’ .