LGBTIQ Rights & Australia’s Asylum Seeker Policy

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Date(s) - Tue 17 Feb 2015

Manning Clarke Lecture Theatre 4

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SPEAKER: Dr Paula Gerber, Deputy Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, and President of Kaleidoscope Australia Human Rights Foundation advocates strongly for greater compliance with international human rights standards. Paula’s work is informed by a deep commitment to social justice and equality. Her extensive research into the human rights issues facing sexual minorities resulted in the development of a website providing up-to-date information on laws persecuting LGBTIQ individuals worldwide (

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. 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.

For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex or Queer (LGBTIQ) asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution in their home countries, the Australian Government’s policy is particularly cruel. 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 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.

Australia’s Asylum Seeker policy is one that hurts the most vulnerable – those feeling persecution or in fear of their life. Discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender are some of the many reasons people need refuge. Fighting for the rights of LGBTIQ asylum seekers means fighting to end Operation Sovereign Borders. It is up to us to fight for a policy that welcomes all asylum seekers with the compassion and generosity they deserve.

Join Rainbow RAC to send the government a strong message:




Rainbow RAC, proud to be part of Canberra Refugee Action Committee, has two goals: to seek justice for those seeking asylum; and to advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ asylum seekers.