Italy Passes Policy Denying Asylum to LGBTQ Refugees

Italy’s coalition government passed legislation to stop offering asylum to LGBTQ people fleeing persecution in their home countries, reported Reuters.

Italy’s Lower House in Rome, championed by Matteo Salvini, voted to turn away immigrants applying for asylum on “humanitarian grounds” Wednesday night (November 28). Salvini is the right-wing leader of the League party, the ultra-conservative party with an anti-LGBTQ reputation.

The house voted overwhelming in favor of the legislation with a vote of 369 to 99. Immigrants fleeing war or political persecution would be allowed asylum, but not others seeking asylum on “humanitarian” grounds, of which LGBTQ immigrants are.

“I’m willing to host women and children who are escaping from war… But all the others, no,” Salvini said. “I don’t want to be seen as an idiot.”

The League’s lawmakers celebrated the legislation by unfurling a banner outside the lower house of parliament that read, “The Salvini decree is law; the good times (for migrants) are over.”

This legislation will impact over 20,000 immigrants who received “humanitarian” protection last year – that’s 25 percent of Italy’s immigrants. Tens of thousands of others who received asylum in previous years may lose their legal status once their documents expire.

There was mention of exceptions to be made for those in need of urgent medical care or escaping natural disasters, but anti-LGBTQ persecution was not one of the exceptions mentioned.

“It will be harder and harder for LGBTI refugees in Italy,” Yuri Guaiana, President Associazione Radicale Certi Diritti, an Italian human rights advocacy organization, told Gay Star News.

He added that the policy could strip LGBTQ asylum seekers of protections. “Before, they could grant LGBTI refugees a two-year humanitarian permit that could be converted into a work permit,” he said. “Now, if they manage to get a permit, it will be a special permit of one year only, not convertible into a work permit.”

Guaiana also expressed his concern over Italian authorities drawing up a list of “safe” countries, as what the Italian government considers “safe” may not be in regards to LGBTQ rights.