Rabat – About 30 gay and lesbian Moroccan students have recently applied for gender-based asylum in Spain, joining the ranks of numerous asylum applicants held in the centers enduring “inhuman conditions.”
The 30 men and women were placed in reception centers for undocumented immigrants in Melilla, pending the status of their asylum procedures in Spain, reports Assabah Daily in its January 18 edition.
Spanish authorities in Melilla said they have been receiving increasing numbers of asylum applications related to sexual orientation after a high-profile case in 2013 when a gay Moroccan man publicly announced that he is seeking asylum in Spain.
However, migrants arriving in the Spanish overseas territories of Melilla and Ceuta seeking gender-based asylum “are exposed to harassment and abuse,” according to Human Rights Watch.
“LGBT asylum seekers who fled homophobic harassment and intimidation at home face similar abuse in Ceuta, both at the immigration center and on the street,” said Judith Sunderland, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
During a visit to Ceuta in mid 2017, Human Rights Watch spoke with three gay men, two from Morocco and one from Algeria, kept at the immigration center pending the approval of their asylum applications.
They said that they fled their home countries due to “extreme abuse, physical violence by family members, [and] repeated and widespread societal rejection.”
Ahmed, a 29-year-old Moroccan, told Human Rights Watch that he fled Morocco only to experience the same kind of discrimination at the hands of other people staying in the migration center.
“They tell me if they see me outside [the center] they’ll beat me,” he said. “They come after me, and I run. One time, in November or December, they hit me.”
Another person explained, “I came to Ceuta. I didn’t have any other choice but to ask for asylum. But here it’s terrible. I am desperate. Ceuta is just like Morocco. One time I was at the beach, and a man who was a little older than me offered me a joint. I said no. He wanted to have sex, but I said no, and he threw a rock at me and hit me. I went to the police. At first, they didn’t want to take my complaint. They didn’t do anything.”