Participants during the 'March of Equality Kharkiv Pride' gay pride parade in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine | Photo: Archive/EPA/Sergey Kozlov
Participants during the 'March of Equality Kharkiv Pride' gay pride parade in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine | Photo: Archive/EPA/Sergey Kozlov

The Gay Center, an organization for LGBT rights in Italy, has expressed concern over a new decree concerning asylum seekers. A Gay Center spokesman on Monday said that countries offering no protection to LGBT people or those criminalizing same-sex relationships are listed as 'safe' countries of origin in the new repatriation program.

A spokesman for the Gay Center, an organization promoting LGBT rights in Italy, has expressed concern for a new decree on asylum seekers presented by the Italian government last Friday.

In an online statement on the Gay Center's website, spokesman Fabrizio Marrazzo said six of the 13 countries the asylum decree defines as "safe" for repatriation - Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal, Ghana and Ukraine - are "dangerous for lesbian, gay, bisex and trans people." 

Referring to reports of human rights organization, the Gay Center said Ukraine in particular is among the countries in which "homosexual and trans people are persecuted." The other countries, meanwhile, are among the "over 70 countries that still criminalize homosexual people," Marrazzo added.

LGBT people endured "social persecution that in some cases turn deadly" in those countries, he said further.

The new asylum decree would see the waiting time for an asylum decision cut from two years to just four months, resulting in faster repatriations in applicable cases.

'Decree must take into account LGBT people'

The 13 countries listed in Italy's new repatriation program are: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Albania, Bosnia, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Senegal, Serbia and Ukraine.

"Each year, we are contacted through the service Gay Helpline by migrants who say they have endured terrible experiences in countries listed as safe," Marrazzo said. He noted that asylum seekers now have less time to present evidence to be granted asylum and face a greater risk to be repatriated to countries "where their life is in danger."

Asylum decree to avoid 'pull factor'

The new asylum decree would be the "first step in our plan for safe repatriations," Di Maio said, adding that only those who need protection could stay. "We are working to avoid creating a pull factor for migrants, by giving a clear message that those who need help are welcome but those who, based on international rules, cannot stay here will be repatriated," the minister said.

Thanking Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede, Premier Giuseppe Conte and Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, Di Maio at a press conference called the decree a "team effort".

The decree would be the "first step in our plan for safe repatriations," Di Maio said further, adding that only those who need protection could stay.

"We are working to avoid creating a pull factor for migrants, by giving a clear message that those who need help are welcome but those who, based on international rules, cannot stay here will be repatriated," the foreign minister said.
 

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