New Canberra Group Says NO PRIDE in Mandatory Detention

Media release

A new group “Rainbow RAC” has formed as part of the Canberra Refugee Action Committee, advocating for the rights of LGBTIQ asylum seekers.

A spokesperson for the group, Anne-Marie Delahunt says that life in Australian detention centres can be dangerous for LGBTIQ people, who are often forced to ‘come out’ to immigration officials but then may face bullying, harassment and often violence.

“The Australian Government’s asylum seeker policy is amongst the cruelest in the world. Under Abbott’s ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, those who come to our shores seeking safety are instead imprisoned offshore” said Delahunt.

“The recent wave of protests and hunger strikes on Manus Island are a testament to the inhumane conditions asylum seekers face in Australia’s detention centres.”

The new immigration minister, Peter Dutton, recently reiterated that asylum seekers arriving by boat “will never arrive in Australia. They will never be settled in Australia.” For LGBTIQ asylum seekers, the Government’s alternative – returning home or resettlement in Nauru, PNG or Cambodia, means facing ongoing violence and discrimination.

In Nauru and PNG, harsh penal codes include up to 14 years hard labour for male sex. In Cambodia, LGBTIQ persons are subject to significant discrimination that has included beatings and gang rape.

In calling for an end to Operation Sovereign Borders, Rainbow RAC is starting 2015 off with a talk from Dr Paula Gerber, Deputy Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, “Why LGBTIQ people seek asylum and problems with how their claims are assessed”. Dr Gerber, also President of Kaleidoscope Australia Human Rights Foundation advocates strongly for greater compliance with international human rights standards.

All LGBTIQ people, their allies and supporters are welcome to hear Dr Gerber speak at 6:30pm Tuesday 17 February 2015, Manning Clark Theatre 4, ANU.

Enquiries about Rainbow RAC can also be made via email to