Stand Up For LGBTI Refugees On Manus Island
Activists are concerned about the mental health of LGBTI asylum seekers.

Activists are concerned about the mental health of LGBTI asylum seekers.

As refugee rights groups begin to form ties with LGBTI asylum seekers on Manus Island, the LGBTI community in Australia is starting to stand up for their rights. Activists are currently organising protests to support the Manus refugees, and a float in the Pride parade.

The appalling situation currently faced by LGBTI asylum seekers interned on Manus is the prospect of a 14 year prison term on Papua New Guinea if they either disclose their sexual orientation, or engage in any sexual activity. This is exactly what they escaped their home country to avoid. This is leading to despair, depression, and suicide attempts.

“The Queer Community in Australia has always stood up for refugees,” said activist James Rendell, “Although many legitimate queer refugees were knocked back prior to the PNG solution, it was at least possible to claim asylum on the basis of homophobic persecution. We are taking a stand again because the PNG solution takes us back to square one.”

The criminalisation of homosexuality in Papua New Guinea means the Manus refugees can’t seek asylum on the basis of homophobic or transphobic persecution. If they can’t say what they have fled from, they can’t pursue their claim. The Manus refugees have also been denied condoms. This is in breach of Australia’s national HIV strategy and undermines Australia’s HIV/AIDS assistance efforts in PNG. 

“Refugees detained onshore can at least join the queer community in Australia. We visit them, we welcome them and we can verify that they are queer to the Refugee Review Tribunal. Detention on Manus Island places them beyond our reach. Nevertheless, we haven’t forgotten them. We are here for them for as long as they need us.” Rendell concluded. 

For more information on the protests, visit