LGBTQ+ refugees in Australias offshore detention centres

On March 10, 2017 Military Technologies published: Asylum seekers who have fled states that outlaw their sexuality or gender identity are escaping the threat of abuse, imprisonment and even murder, but the public debate over asylum seekers and offshore detention centres largely overlooks their plight.LGBTQ+ asylum seekers detained in centres on Manus Island and Nauru are especially vulnerable to violence. The Refugee Council of Australia notes that ‚there have been consistent and alarming reports of abuse (sexual and otherwise), including of those living in the community in Nauru and of gay and lesbian people’. Similarly, Human Rights Watch noted in their recently released World Report 2017 that ‚gay asylum seekers on Manus Island have reported being shunned, sexually abused, or assaulted by other asylum seekers’.Homosexuality is still criminalised in Papua New Guinea, and if LGBTQ+ asylum seekers were released in Papua New Guinea, they would face a strong likelihood of experiencing ‚violence, intimidation, imprisonment and possible death‚, according to Human Rights Watch.The murder of a gay Papua New Guinean man, Harry Peter, in Alotau in October 2016, allegedly targeted because of his sexuality, highlights the potential danger to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers in PNG (and is a sad reminder that local LGBTQ+ people in the Pacific face similar threats and challenges every day). Advocates in the Pacific condemned his murder and claim the crime has not been properly investigated by local police. As in most countries, there are slightly safer neighbourhoods for LGBTQ+ people in Papua New Guinea and attitudes are changing in some sectors of the community, but homophobia is still predominant.There are parallels in Nauru, where homosexuality was only decriminalised in 2016 and homophobia is similarly prevalent. There are currently two Iranian refugees detained in Nauru who are in fear for their lives after being physically and verbally abused for their sexuality and their relationship with each other. While their story was picked up by Australian media last year around the same time as Mardi Gras, this issue generally goes all but unnoticed.

Read more at: LGBTQ+ refugees in Australias offshore detention centres – MilTech

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