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The following are Tweets from the account of Foreign Minister Bob Carr:

“Meeting with members of #LGBTI community on making LGBTI rights a core foreign policy priority of Rudd Government”

“I promise to stand up against homophobia, transphobia & biphobia. Always.” 

I couldn’t quite tell whether he was being deliberately ironic or whether it was some form of joke. Either way, there was something deeply sick about it.

At almost exactly at the same moment as Foreign Minister Bob Carr tweeted this, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was joined by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to announce the Government’s new asylum seeker policy. A policy that will ensure that any and all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat will now be resettled permanently in Papua New Guinea.

A sick joke indeed.

Whilst our Foreign Minister is telling us that LGBTI rights will be a core part of our foreign policy, our Prime Minister is announcing that we will be sending thousands of asylum seekers to a place where homosexuality is illegal. We’ll be sending thousands of asylum seekers to a place where men caught engaging in anal sex can be punished with prison sentences of up to 14 years. A place where a man who “commits an act of gross indecency with another male person” in public is subject to three years imprisonment. LGTBI people face significant discrimination in Papua New Guinea, with activists reporting that queer people in country often find it difficult to find employment and a decent wage in the country.

This leaves us with a very real possibility – a queer person fleeing persecution because of the sexual identity tries to make their way to Australia by boat, and ends up being sent to a country where homosexuality is illegal, by a government that apparently cares about LGBTI rights. The persecution would never end, except this time our government – the one that supports LGBTI rights – would be complicit in it.

And this, on the same day that our Foreign Minister tweets that he will “promise to stand up against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia”.

It seems that LGBTIQ rights, like climate change and asylum seekers, have become the political playthings of the ALP. Support same-sex marriage to give you a boost in the community, but be quick to sell queer people out when it is needed politically.

Mr Rudd and Mr Carr, this is not how you make LGBTI rights a “core foreign policy priority”. In fact, it is the opposite. It is how you trash LGBTI rights as part of your foreign policy.

But hey, I guess no queer asylum seekers will be voting in the election, will they?

A truly sick joke.

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