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Arcigay, Rome. Photo: Facebook

‘Why don’t you say you’re gay?’

Some illegal migrants in Italy fail to get residency because they are "economic migrants". Now they have found another way in.

Published: October 24, 2019, 9:11 am

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    Thanks to a series of meetings, they can prove to the judges that they are persecuted in their countries because they are homosexual. But many are actually not.

    For some migrants, obtaining a residence permit is very difficult but they have found a new loophole: They claim to be homosexual.

    Many of them are in fact rejected by the territorial Commissions of the Interior Ministry because they are “economic migrants”. After receiving the refusal to apply for a residence permit, it is possible to have recourse to a lawyer made available by the State in the form of free legal aid.

    According to reports by Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera, various migrants, who are actually heterosexual, said that their lawyers had advised them to take the Arcigay card. In this way they have more chances to convince the judges that they have been persecuted in their countries because they are homosexual.

    In fact, refugee status are given to those whose lives are in danger due to their sexual orientation and not only to those fleeing from war and political persecution. This measure was envisaged by the protocols linked to the Refugee Convention and in Italy by the Legislative Decree 251 of 2017.

    Suffice it to say that at least 10 000 asylum seekers apply for protection in Europe every year declaring that they have fled their country because they are homosexuals. The data comes from Open Migration, an information site on the topic of migration and refugees.

    How can one prove one’s homosexuality? Every two weeks, Arcigay in Rome organises meetings for LGBT migrants to facilitate the integration of new arrivals. In fact, one of the coordinators explained that their purpose was to prepare the migrants for court hearings .

    The ultimate goal is to obtain a residence permit but to do so, they will have to appear convincing before the courts. It is not easy especially for those who are heterosexual and come from countries where gays are not accepted.

    In Africa, for example, there are at least 33 states where homosexuality is a crime and in 4 of these (Mauritania, Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia) the death penalty is given.

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