AUSTRALIAN Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson stressed the importance of making sure claims made by LGBTI refugees seeking asylum in Australia were legitimate at the Victorian AIDS Council’s Hypothetical last night.

Hypothetical is an annual VAC event that brings together a panel of media personalities, politicians, and activists to discuss a range of social issues, and this year they did so through a fictional narrative set in 2022.

Last night’s panellists included Wilson, Victorian Gender and Sexuality Commissioner Rowena Allen, HIV activist Nic Holas, comedian Tom Ballard, trans advocate Aram Hosie and Sophie Ismail, Labor’s candidate for the federal seat of Melbourne.

In the Hypothetical’s fictional 2022, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek had become Australia’s Prime Minister and was planning a Rainbow Jubilee, opening the night’s discussion to a range of issues including the state of HIV and PrEP, trans awareness, and marriage equality.

When asked about his position on LGBTI asylum seekers in the 2022 narrative, Wilson said all claims made by gay refugees would need to be proved accurate and that it was one of the hardest assessments.

He went on to say that some asylum seekers visit brothels and pay for oral sex, using the receipt as “proof” of their sexuality.

Wilson later clarified on Twitter in response to a barrage of tweets criticising his comments that he said this in the context of explaining sexual activity as not being the basis of getting an application approved.

“I’d like to see some policy nuance on issues around LGBTI asylum seekers,” he told the Star Observer afterwards.

“That’s a challenging area, but one where I think more can be done, particularly for people on Manus [Island] and Nauru.

“They shouldn’t be refouled by being resettled in those countries, they should have an alternative option.”

Meanwhile on the topic of getting PrEP approved, comedian and panelist Tom Ballard said: “If PrEP cured male pattern baldness in middle-aged white men, it’d be sold in 7 Eleven yesterday.”

The night also presented the opportunity to discuss issues faced by the Indigenous LGBTI community, particularly in northern Australia.

Northern Territory AIDS and Hepatitis C Council executive director, Kim Gates, spoke in particular about the lack of support for lesbian women.

“Aboriginal people make up 30 per cent of the population in the Northern Territory, but lesbians make up 50 per cent,” she joked.

“There is always a place for gay and lesbian Aboriginal people alongside brotherboys and sistergirls.”

Gates also mentioned the lack of focus placed on the high rates of STIs and local viruses in the community.

“We have a huge issue with syphilis in the Aboriginal community, and we’ve seen some instances of congenital syphilis where a couple of babies have died as a result,” she told the Star Observer.

“We started working with three cases in Queensland about two years ago and we’ve now seen it spread across to the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

“It’s very easily transmitted and so that’s probably our number one issue in the territory at the moment.”

Hypothetical was hosted by comedian Adam Richard and held as part of Midsumma Festival.

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