The Saudi sisters found dead in their Sydney apartment earlier this year reportedly applied for permanent protection visas on the basis of their sexuality and religious beliefs, but were ultimately denied.
It’s understood Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, applied for the subclass 866 protection visa — a permanent visa option for people who are at risk in their home countries — on the grounds she was a lesbian, an unnamed source revealed to The Australian this week.
However, it was denied because she could not go into detail about the gay events she attended.
The source also told the publication Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, claimed she was an atheist on her application for the same visa, but didn’t give enough evidence about her lack of religious beliefs.
It’s understood one of the woman made an additional claim she was fleeing a forced marriage.
Sisters attend queer event: 'Live in fear'
Amaal and Asra's sexualities are an avenue of investigation, The Guardian reports, after the sisters reportedly attended a girls-only queer event in January and revealed to an attendee that gay women "live in fear" in Saudi Arabia.
“I noticed them keeping to themselves in a corner, looking shy, and so I went over and started talking to them,” the anonymous woman told the publication.
“They mentioned that they were from Saudi Arabia, and we talked about what it is like to be queer there.
“They said women live in fear of their safety and that they were grateful to be living in Australia, where they could more freely express themselves.”
The bodies of Asra Abdullah Alsehli, 24, and Amaal Abdullah Alsehli, 23, were discovered at the Canterbury Road apartment on June 7.
Late last month, police revealed they still don’t know how the women died but it’s believed their bodies had been in the flat since early May.
Despite initial reports the pair were found naked in their seperate beds, it’s been widely reported recently the sisters were fully-clothed and in an advanced state of decomposition.
While police are still baffled by the sisters’ mysterious deaths, Michael Baird, the manager of the apartment building where the women were found, previously told the ABC the pair were “very afraid of something” and had raised concerns about someone tampering with their food delivery.
Another person who works for the building told the publication the women had also been concerned about a man possibly watching them from across the street.
Journalists’ ‘really weird’ encounter outside sisters’ apartment
The revelation about the failed protection visas comes after two ABC journalists recalled a “really weird” encounter they experienced outside the sisters’ Sydney flat.
Mahmood Fazal and Rachael Brown have been covering their deaths for the ABC's Background Briefing, gathering information from witnesses in recent weeks.
However, during a recent visit to their apartment block, the journalists say they got to experience the “paranoia” surrounding the sisters first-hand.
“As we’re standing waiting for a cab, something really weird happens,” Fazal and Brown explained.
“A car pulls up at the lights. Its driver pulls an iPhone out and takes a photograph of us. In a slow, deliberate fashion, like he wanted us to know, ‘I’m watching you’.”
Sources have revealed that Asra and Amaal feared they were being followed.
A tradie told the ABC journalists he had encountered a suspicious Middle Eastern man lingering in the building prior to their deaths.
When asked, the man reportedly told the worker he lived in the same apartment as the sisters.
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