LGBTI refugees are some of the most vulnerable individuals held in detention around the world.

The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee released an Interim Report in May 2016 on an inquiry into the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees at regional processing centres (RPC)  in the Republic of Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The New South Wales Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (GLRL) contributed to the submissions received that focused on the situation of LGBTI people in the detention centres. The submission from the GLRL highlighted issues faced by LGBTI refugees in Australian offshore processing facilities and explored options to address these issues as the treatment of LGBTI asylum seekers continues to create serious concern.

The GLRL highlighted the increasing number of refugees seeking protection in Australia. A number of these come from some of the 77 countries that still criminalise homosexuality in some manner and many continue to introduce harsher penalties.

One section of the overall report highlights the GLRL’s finding that “LGBTI refugees are some of the most vulnerable individuals held in detention around the world. It also notes that LGBTI refugees face severe discrimination in RPCs, host countries, and refugee status determination.

In the submission, the GLRL recommends “specific training and education of relevant officials and service providers” as well as improved services that will help address “specific needs and vulnerabilities of LGBTI asylum seekers.”

The recommendations also include “mandatory guidelines about the treatment of LGBTI refugees in regional processing centres that address issues of LGBTI identification and intersectional identities and the unique situation of LGBTI refugees,” specific “training to increase understanding of diverse sexual orientation and gender diversity and compulsory responses to violence against members of LGBTI communities in RPCs. “

The GLRL also recommended that LGBTI asylum seekers not be repatriated to their country of origin if it compromises their safety or wellbeing and that LGBTI refugees should not be resettled in countries where homosexuality is criminalised.