My name is Moshe, I came from Cairo, Egypt. I was working in a communication company. I came here in April 2015. I’m 26 years old.
Life in Egypt
I’m gay, and the situation of being gay in Egypt was terrible. First of all, you can’t be gay in Egypt. You cannot live, you can’t do anything. You feel fear for everything. You are afraid of the police because they can send you to jail. You feel fear for your family, because they will not accept this and it will be a shame for them. Some families kill their sons and make it look like an “accident,” because he is gay and it’s a shame.
My family and friends doesn’t know I’m gay. I would have problems with them, so I preferred not to tell them and keep the relationships going well. Now, we call each other every day, we speak on Facebook or skype, the communication is easier now. I won’t tell them because I don’t want them to be sad and also I want to go back again and keep things good with them. They won’t accept me. Now I have a good relationship with them, so I prefer to keep it.
In Egypt, if you are gay, you are totally hidden. You have like two personalities, the gay one and the straight one. You show the straight one with your family and straight friends, your work and your church, because I’m Christian. You can show the gay personality just with groups of gay people. We know each other, but we never say our real name to others because we are afraid that someone could say anything, for example to the police if they ask them, so it’s better that they don’t know my real name, or where I live. This is just to chat or to meet people and feel free. But even in this groups you should take care of, your actions, your clothes, everything. You can’t wear any of the clothes you like because if other person thinks it’s not good, they will make a problem to you. Because in Egypt the people don’t accept the gay people and will never accept them. They will make problems about it and attack the person, fight with him or her. So the gay life in Egypt is a problem, it’s very very bad.
First we had an App to meet gay people, but now we never use it because the police make fake accounts to chat with the people and when they meet they put them in jail, so we don’t use it again. After this we make a group with the people that we already know and you can go with your friends. But now that’s a difficult situation because there are many fake accounts of the police and everyone is afraid of being in any group and be taken to jail.
Also, there was a person who was annoying me, so I was afraid that he could do anything bad to me because he had pictures of me. It would affect me, so I decided to come. I was afraid of this person, I don’t know if he would do anything, but I couldn’t stay there until the police catch me and put me into jail, tell my family, etc.
A Life changing decision
This decision totally changed my life. A friend decided to run away and then I decided that it could be good for me too, it’s like he took the decision for me. I left my job, I said to my family that I was travelling to change my life and get a better work, but they didn’t want me to go, so I had to tell them that it would be good for me and I needed to do it.
In Egypt is not usual that a person wants to go to live to another country, is not as Europe, that young people go to study to other places, in Egypt you stay with your family until you marry. When you get married, you can leave your family and live in another place, or when you are 30 years old. So when I decided to travel, it was strange for them, they said: “stay with us, you have your work, you have your life, and your life is good, why should you want to go?” I told them that I wanted to study to be better. So that’s what happen, I left everything and came here.
Before I came, I searched for places that were good for a gay person, so I found this is a good place for gay life, there is no homophobic people, so I decided to come to Barcelona. After this, I searched about how to apply for the asylum, to know if I can ask for it at the airport or where. I arrived to Barcelona and I went to BBB and they told me how to apply, they know my story so they advise me about what should I do and how.
The first months…
It was hard, I arrived to a hotel and then I look for a room. After this I went to AAA for help, but they didn’t had resources at that time because they had a lot of refugees and they can’t help all of them. I went there and said I needed a place to stay, and they told me I couldn’t get any help until I had the asylum request at the government, and my appointment with the lawyer was like two or three months since then. Also, they told me that still with the asylum request, they couldn’t give me any help until they have a free place. So I stay, and I rented a room and I try to work but I didn’t have papers.
I didn’t have enough money to pay for the room, so I had to stay at the street some days and this is a really hard situation. The first months they didn’t help me with anything. Not even with courses, to take courses you need the asylum number. Everything was complications, I had to wait for the appointment with the lawyer, so it was really hard. After this, more than three or four months, they told me they have a place for me but not here.
After this four months, I had a life, is enough time to settle things. I made communication, I had a boyfriend, I made friends, I had everything and they gave me a place in another city. I told them: “Now I have a life here and you want me to change all of this and go to another place? I need you to find me a place here, you let me here four months and didn’t help me, you should do it. If you want to send me to another city, then ok, do it at the beginning, but don’t wait until now. I have courses, I apply for a scholarship for refugees at a university, and I have built a life until this moment, so I need the place here. I want your help, but here, even if it is a little help, it would be better for me than going to another place”. They told me that there weren’t places in Barcelona so they couldn’t help me with nothing.
This is something that happen not only to me, but could happen to any refugee that come here, they have to wait three or four months to get any help. You come here as a refugee, you don’t have a job, you don’t have family or friends here, you don’t know how the country works, you don’t know the language. I think they should help them from the first days, not let them wait for months. I think they should improve the strategies to help refugees from the first day. Even in a camp, they need a place to sleep and eat.
The asylum procedure has three phases. On the first one, they give you a place for six months. On the second phase they give you help for six months to rent a room at any place, and money for the food. And on the third, they help you with courses, or metro tickets, or this kind of things. So, I asked them to put me in the second phase, but they told me I couldn’t take the second without taking the first. I tried for two months to ask for this, but at the end I didn’t receive any help from them. They said that the only way they can help me is with courses, so I took the courses, I didn’t have other choice.
I could continue with the refugee application, but without any help. They cannot put you in the second step without taking the first step. If I don’t need the first, they should give me the second, but no. They make it complicated to me and they don’t accept this. So I decided not to move and not accept any help.
This is bad because they wait three or four months to give the people any help, so the person begins to make a life, have friends, and have a boyfriend, like me. It’s a lot of time, it’s not a week or two, it’s four months. This is the reason why I didn’t accept to go to another city.
Also, they don’t have a specific help for LGBT refugees. They don’t put you in any special place to make sure people accept you, but sometimes they make sure that in the place they give you, you are comfortable with the people. The help is the same for all the people, for LGBT and for not LGBT people
Differences between Egypt and Spain
In Egypt and some other countries, they don’t accept others, not just LGBT people. For example, if I’m Christian and they are Muslim, they don’t accept me for being Christian. They will not accept anything that is different. They have a problem with this. This also affects gay, lesbian, trans, they don’t accept it at all and they will never accept them. In Egypt, or in other Arabic countries, you should be hidden all your life because you will be always afraid to get arrested or you get killed.
Here is totally different, they accept everyone. They don’t care about your religion, about your sexuality or anything. They care only about your personality. Now I can go to anywhere and tell I’m gay and there’s no problem. I can wear anything I like. I can have a boyfriend, and I can marry him if I want. I have all my life here.
Now I’m very comfortable and very happy that I’m here. It’s a little hard to me to don’t be close to my family or have a job, but now I’m living without fear. My personality has not changed, but now I live free.
I’m taking courses of Spanish and some courses in English too. I have my boyfriend. I’m still not working, but sometimes I make little things and earn some money. I will go to the university, and study a master degree in accounting. I’m waiting because there’s an opportunity of getting a scholarship that one university give to refugees. In this university they have places for refugee people who have their degree from their country and have the certificate.
In the future I hope I could finish the master, speak fluent and good spanish, find a good job and live a normal life. I would like to work in accounting, or as a banker, anything related to accounting. In Egypt I wasn’t working in accounting, I was working in customer service, because I didn’t find in a job in accounting, so I hope here I can find a job that fits my needs.