End Queer Lockdown on Manus Island

precious mother

This is a suicide note from one of the detainees. He attempted suicide, but luckily he was saved. He is still in detention on Manus Island.

[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]

Dept. Immigration & Border Protection images: Manus Island regional processing facility

Dept. Immigration & Border Protection images: Manus Island regional processing facility

[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.” 

Victoria Martin
James Rendell

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!

About the author

James Rendell is the President of Fagmedia an Independent Queer Media Organisation at www.fagmedia.com.au Editor of Perth Gay News which is Fagmedia's "fluffy social to keep the locals happy" website. www.perthgaynews.com aka Senior Sister Sister Mary-Jane Singleton of the Divine Green Weed, SS Mistress Aunnuncio of the Perth Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence theperthsisters.org (For the hottest gossip in Perth go to theholybitchmotherdingo.org and last but not least he is Vice Chairperson of People Living with HIV/AIDS WA Inc but his words here are his purely personal views and not those of the organisation. James' Academic Quals include BA (ECU) PostGradDip Health Promotion (Curtin) Grad Dip Photomedia (ECU) James was awarded the Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year for 1988 by the Corrigin Shire Council in Western Australia and has traveled to 5 continents on this planet.