Gay asylum seekers and refugees currently at Australia’s offshore detention centre face dire consequences if they are sent home.
Australia has two controversial offshore detention centres. One is on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and the other is on Nauru.
Australian LGBTI rights advocates are worried about the future of gay, bisexual and queer asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre. The Centre is gradually closing and refugees are either sent home or released into the Papua New Guinea community. The Centre will close permanently in October.
Many gay asylum seekers come from countries where homosexuality is severely punished. Papua New Guinea also has criminal sanctions against homosexuality with jail terms up to fourteen years.
Amir is a gay man from Iran who is worried about his future.
‘I will be executed if I go back or be deported to Iran. I never feel safe in PNG and I haven’t left the center in 4 years,’ Amir said.
‘I can’t live and feel safe in a place that my sexuality is a crime. I have been afraid to tell people in camp about my sexuality.
‘There is many problems for gay guys on Manus. We have been detained among 850 men in small area and there has been many incident about it.’
Some asylum seekers on Manus Island are seeking asylum in Australia. But they have been told this will not happen because of Australia’s increasingly strict rules against accepting refugees.
Greens Party Senators Nick McKim and Senator Janet Rice called on the Australian government to bring the gay asylum seekers to Australia or allow them to resettle in another country.
‘The government is being profoundly cruel. Many of these men have fled their home country because of their sexuality, so going home is not an option,’ Senator Rice said.
‘It’s time to bring these men to Australia so they can be who they are without fearing for their lives.’
LGBTI advocacy group Just.equal spokesperson started a petition to convince the government to bring the men to Australia.
‘As a matter of urgency, gay asylum seekers must be brought to Australia or allowed to go to another safe country,’ said Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome.
‘It is profoundly cruel to give them two options that both involve the potential of being jailed or worse just because of who they are.
‘They must be brought to Australia, or Australia must allow them to go to a country like New Zealand, Canada or the US where they will not be persecuted.’
The petition can be found here: