No pride in Australia’s homophobic anti-refugee policies

On Jan 13, 2016 Same Same published an article and this is an excerpt from it.  Please read the entire article.

…Detention in these offshore immigration prisons is especially dangerous for LGBTQI people. LGBTIQI asylum seekers have been forced to declare their sexuality to immigration officials in their applications for refugee status. The Australian government has claimed that this is to help ‘fast track’ LGBTQI asylum seekers claims. However, LGBTQI asylum Seekers have been asked by immigration officials to prove their sexuality and in doing so, have been asked to identify Western LGTBQI icons and to demonstrate an ongoing connection with LGTBQI groups and venues. For LGTBQI refugees who have fled situations of homophobic and transphobic persecution, disclosing diverse sexual and or gender identity is extremely difficult given the likelihood of being deported.

Disclosing sexual and or gender diversity in detention has meant that some refugees have experienced homophobic and transphobic violence, harassment and abuse within detention centres perpetrated by both detention centre staff and other refugees.

The institutional culture of suspicion towards LGBTQI refugee claims is endemic. Amnesty International and other refugee and LGBTQI advocacy groups have expressed condemnation for reports that prior to being deported, immigration officials have told LGBTIQ asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected, to ‘closet’ their sexuality or their gender identity when they are returned to the countries they have fled from.

If LGBTQI asylum seekers are deemed to be ‘refugees’ they can be resettled in Papua New Guinea but not in Australia. This policy has significant implications for LGBTQI people who are who are resettled in PNG as their government criminalises homosexuality under Section 210 of the Papua New Guinea Criminal Code (1974). In PNG the penalty for male gay sex is 14 years imprisonment. For gay male asylum seekers these policies create the possibility of exiting immigration detention only to be incarcerated once again under these homophobic laws. Although these laws are not stringently applied Ritl and Sandbach (2015) argue ‘the mere existence of such laws means that asylum seekers and resettled refugees may face intimidation, threats, fear and violence, with no real recourse to authorities due to the possibility of facing prison time’.

Amnesty International has reported that staff on Manus Island have threatened asylum seekers that they will disclose any consensual same-sex sexual activity to PNG police claiming that they are mandated to do so. The Salvation Army has also been criticised for distributing printed material with pictures of gay and lesbian couples kissing with large red crosses superimposed over the images. The Salvation Army claim that this material is used to inform asylum seekers that homosexuality is illegal and not culturally tolerated in PNG.

Read the entire article at No pride in Australia’s homophobic anti-refugee policies.

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