How can a country which threw someone in jail and tortured them because they waved a rainbow flag, be considered safe?

Activists from the LGTBIQ movement and Graffiti yesterday gathered in front of the Egyptian Embassy to commemorate the life of Sara Hegazy, who died six days ago at the age of 30.

On 22 September 2017, Sara Hegazi attended a concert in Cairo, Egypt during which the group Mashrou’ Leila performed. Their lead singer, Hamed Sinno is openly gay. She was arrested together. with a group of other people ,who waved a rainbow flag in support of LGBTIQ rights.

Her arrest took place after Egyptian authorities had declared zero tolerance for public support of LGBTIQ rights.

While she was in prison, she was tortured, abused and beaten by other prisoners for three whole months. Afterwards she requested asylum and was living in Canada when she began suffering from PTSD because of what she went through in the Egyptian prison. She died on 13 June.

In a statement, the LGTBIQ movement and Graffiti said that Sara’s death is not an isolated case. In 2016, 49 people who are LGBTIQ were killed in the US.

In February of this year in Poland, which is led by a right-wing Government,  LGBTIQ-free zones were created. Nigeria,  together with another 70 countries, still consider homosexuality as a grave and illegal act and in certain countries is still punishable by death.

Some people have chosen to flee to have a better future in countries which are safe, but this choice often presents various obstacles.  The first obstacle is the fact that it is impossible to arrive in Europe safely and therefore they choose the irregular routes to Europe.

They said that when refugees who are LGBTIQ+ arrive in Malta, they have to stay at the detention centres and then the Open Centre –  a process which drains their last remaining energy after having endured severe trauma.

Another  problem is the categorisation of their country of origin. It said that Malta has ratified the Refugee Act in May 2020, where Egypt was classified as a safe country. They questioned how a country which threw a person in jail and tortured her for three months for waving a rainbow flag can be considered safe.

They expressed their hope that if Sara had come to Malta she would have a found a procedure which would have helped her rather than ruining the last bit of energy she had and her will to survive.