[More letters from gay detainees were published in The Guardian.]
End Queer Lockdown on Manus Island: Free the Refugees
As refugee rights groups begin to form ties with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) asylum seekers on Manus Island, the LGBTI community in Australia is starting to stand up for their rights. Activists are currently organising a protest to support the refugees held in detention on Manus Island (details at the bottom of this post), and a float in the Pride parade.
The appalling situation currently faced by LGBTI asylum seekers interned on Manus is the prospect of a 14 year prison term on Papua New Guinea if they either disclose their sexual orientation, or engage in any sexual activity. This is exactly what they escaped their home country to avoid. This is leading to despair, depression, and suicide attempts. Activist James Rendell said:
“The Queer Community in Australia has always stood up for refugees. Although many legitimate queer refugees were knocked back prior to the PNG solution, it was at least possible to claim asylum on the basis of homophobic persecution. We are taking a stand again because the PNG solution takes us back to square one.”
[scroll down for more]
[For a rather different view of the centre, check out this ABC report.]
The criminalisation of homosexuality in Papua New Guinea means the Manus refugees can’t seek asylum on the basis of homophobic or transphobic persecution. If they can’t say what they have fled from, they can’t pursue their claim. The Manus refugees have also been denied condoms, even though the Australian government provides funding to Papua New Guinea to counter HIV/AIDS. Rendell concluded:
“Refugees detained onshore can at least join the queer community in Australia. We visit them, we welcome them and we can verify that they are queer to the Refugee Review Tribunal. Detention on Manus Island places them beyond our reach. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten them. We are here for them for as long as they need us.”
No to Islamophobia! Rally against Anti-Muslim Racism in Perth on 18 Oct 2014
With Helen Child Co-Convenor, End Queer Lockdown on Manus Island, https://www.facebook.com/EndLockDownonManusIsland
Sam Cavallaro, Curtin Uni Student Guild President, Clare Francis, Humanities Rep, Curtin Uni Student Guild & Miranda Wood Education Vice President Curtin Uni Student Guild!
All are members of Equal Love WA!