The Malta Independent 22 June 2024, Saturday
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NGOs urge government to grant migrants same LGBTIQA+ rights enjoyed by Maltese

Monday, 20 May 2024, 12:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Five organisations have come together to urge the government to extend the LGBTIQA+ rights enjoyed by the Maltese to migrants and refugees who escaped persecution for their sexual orientation and sought refuge in Malta.

In a statement, the NGOs saud Malta has made remarkable strides in this area and ranks number one in Europe for the protection and human rights of the LGBTIQA+ community — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual — but its asylum system still fails to fully embrace and protect those escaping oppression for their sexual identity.

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 ot just, but various laws in Malta specifically create distinctions between LGBTIQA+ persons based on whether they are Maltese or otherwise.

So to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Interphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT), four NGOs — Aditus, Drachma, Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, and The Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society — as well as the Rainbow Families Network joined forces to reflect on sexual and gender diversities within the migrant community.

While welcoming the steps the government made through the LGBTIQA+ Equality Strategy and Action Plan 2023-2027 to protect the rights of such asylum-seekers and migrants, the five NGOs said they are proposing additional recommendations and urging more concrete action in a joint declaration.

The NGOs said: “Just as Maltese people are diverse, so are the thousands of people coming to make Malta their home. The progress Malta made towards protecting LGBTIQA+ persons should not be a privilege for Maltese, but flourish when it includes the broader community. LGBTIQA+ refugees, migrants and other EU nationals living in Malta deserve our protection to be free to live their lives in safety and dignity.”

The theme for the international event, marked on May 17, is ‘No one left behind: equality, freedom and justice for all’, and the Maltese NGOs gathered together with one common message — to shine a light on a vital but often overlooked issue: the challenges faced by LGBTIQA+ migrants and refugees in Malta.

 

 

 

On the day, migrants and refugees who escaped the persecution of their communities where homosexuality is an entrenched taboo, shared their stories.

 

Among the recommendations made was for Malta to remove countries that criminalised LGBTIQA+ people or behaviour from the list of ‘safe countries of origin’ and grant a full asylum process to all persons.

 

The way things stand if a country is described as ‘safe’, any person escaping punishment and seeking protection in Malta will face higher hurdles to present their needs. And, if rejected, they are unable to appeal and challenge the description of their country as being ‘safe’.

 

The NGOs also called for Malta to come in line with international and European law when detaining migrants, and to address their individual needs since detention is a particularly unsafe environment for LGBTIQA+ persons.

 

The government is also being urged to broaden its definition of family members to include the partner LGBTIQA+ refugees when assessing applications for family reunification.

 

“As we celebrate progress towards inclusivity and diversity, let us not forget those whose journey for acceptance is riddled with obstacles and prejudice,” the NGOs said.

 

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