LGBT refugees who try to seek asylum in Australia by boat will be relocated and resettled against their will in Papua New Guinea despite the country jailing people for up to 14 years for gay sex and its high rates of HIV.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus confirmed that LGBT refugees would not be exempt from the controversial policy which the Australian Government hopes will put an end to the people smuggling of refugees to Australia.
‘It’s a general policy that anyone who arrives in Australia by boat without a visa … will be transferred to Papua New Guinea,’ Dreyfus told a press conference earlier today.
Dreyfus said the Australian Government had no plans to pressure Papua New Guinea to repeal its laws around homosexuality.
‘We don’t think that that’s necessary in order for Australia to comply with our international legal obligations and the obligations that we have under the Migration Act,’ Dreyfus said.
‘At the same time our minister for immigration Tony Burke has made it very clear that those transfers won’t occur until there is appropriate accommodation and appropriate circumstances for everyone who is sent.’
The same rules will not apply to refugees who travel to Australia by plane to claim asylum.
Dreyfus made the comments at a press conference with Australia’s Minister for Health and Medical Research Tanya Plibersek announcing new funding for the HIV/AIDS Legal Center.
The Australian Government will provide an extra $80,000 to the HIV/AIDS Legal Center over the next four years.
‘Access to legal advice and support is essential to strengthening our local communities and our democracy,’ Dreyfus said at the press conference.
‘I am proud of Labor’s commitment to a fair go under the law and am confident this funding for the HIV/AIDS Legal Center will help its important work in assisting people with HIV-related legal matters.
‘Legal services have not yet fully recovered from cuts under the Howard Liberal Government but, in a tough budgetary period, this is a significant boost.’
‘This additional funding will help the HIV/AIDS Legal Center meet demand for legal services for people dealing with a very significant medical issue,’ Plibersek said.
This funding is part of an extra $33.5 million over four years for community legal centers across Australia.
The Papua New Guinean Government have resisted calls from inside the country and by the international community to get rid of its colonial era laws on homosexuality.