A man has allegedly been detained and deported by Australian Border Force after HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and sex toys were found in his luggage.
The German man, who cannot be named at this time, arrived in Cairns yesterday and was detained overnight before deportation this morning.
When he arrived in Cairns he had been on holiday in Japan for a week, and was on the way back to Sydney where he lives with his partner.
“It was upon re-entering Australia that he was intercepted by Border Force. They detained him for 24 hours and have put him on a plane since then,” the man’s partner told Star Observer.
His partner said Australian Border Force (ABF) refused to reveal where the man was being held, obstructed access to legal counsel, confiscated his phone and controlled his communications.
His partner understands, based on two conversations he was allowed to have with the man, that he was detained at the airport because of the PrEP and sex toys in his bag.
“ABF has not provided us any official statements,” he said.
“Any time we’ve made an enquiry they’ve shut us down in the name of the Privacy Act.
“My understanding is he was intercepted at Cairns. We suspect that there may have been some level of profiling about him being visibly gay.
“We believe they discovered his PrEP and sex toys in his luggage, and that exacerbated the profile they’d formed.
“At that point they confiscated his phone and took him into detention. They allege that he had violated the terms of his agreement, with the expectation that he was entering to do sex work.”
His partner said that he believes the man was being intimidated during the period of detention.
“The few times I spoke to him he sounded scared, he sounded very isolated,” his partner said.
“He was very worried about being subject to further punitive legal actions… he was afraid he would never be able to re-enter the country if he didn’t comply and do things like hand over his phone.
“At no point was he advised he was entitled to legal representation… before a decision was made.”
The man was reportedly sent back to Japan this morning, with arrangements made for him to fly on to Germany.
“He’s not going to be in a good financial position, or emotional position, to contest any of this from Japan,” said his partner.
“I think he’s going to follow through with a decision just to carry on the journey back to Munich where at least he can be supported by friends and we can maybe figure out what our next step is there.”
Human rights advocate Sarah Smith, who usually works with refugees and humanitarian visas, stepped in to assist with the case.
“I routinely deal with ABF,” she said.
“I’m extremely concerned that this young man’s human rights have been infringed upon to this degree.”
Smith said she last night submitted a form 956, allowing her to act as the man’s representative and access the documents surrounding the incident, including any evidence against the man.
“We submitted that form, it was signed by me, [the man] received it and he signed it,” she said.
“From that point on, all of my contact with him was just rejected. I could not get through to him on the phone. The officers guarding him refused to give me any answers as to his whereabouts.
“The next thing I heard from him, he rang me and said, ‘I’m at the airport, they’re about to put me on a plane’.”
Smith wanted the man to apply for a substantive visa, which would have allowed a three-day window to appeal any decision.
“They wouldn’t even allow him to apply for it,” she said.
“This is very normal for ABF. I deal with deportations every week and it’s always the exact same behaviour.
“And that’s how I know that he was profiled for being… a visibly gay man.
“ABF officers are incredibly racist and incredibly homophobic. They routinely make homophobic remarks to their charges. There’s a real culture of thuggery.
“Without question it was a homophobic ABF officer who pulled him over to open up his suitcase, and then upon finding the sex toys and the PrEP, they’ve decided to detain him and seize his phone.”
The couple have been together almost a year, and will now be apart for Christmas and their first anniversary.
The man has been living in Australia for over two years, and his partner said they had been exploring options such as a partner visa for him to stay permanently.
“We were waiting on the change of legislation,” said his partner.
“Part of me thinks if [marriage equality had been legislated faster] we may have been on some kind of partner visa now.”
His partner said he is “outraged and upset” over the man’s deportation and his alleged treatment.
“[ABF] strongly refutes any claims of discrimination in this matter,” said a spokesperson, according to Gay Star News.
“People who have previously breached their visa conditions, especially the ‘no work’ right condition, may have their visas cancelled upon arrival in Australia and may face removal. Those who arrive in Australia without the appropriate visa may be turned-around at the airport and returned home.
“Clients in an immigration detention facility are able to have contact with their legal advisor in line with departmental policy and procedures.”