THIS weekend will be Australia Day and while our country is far from perfect and inequality remains in many aspects of LGBTI life, what about those around the world? What about those who flee persecution and where it is illegal be gay? For this week’s Soapbox, the Star Observer sought to gain a variety of views on this issue.
To begin with, we reached out to both the ministers who hold the immigration portfolio for Liberal and Labor.
IMMIGRATION MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON:
Since December 16, 2013 Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison was repeatedly asked to contribute to the Star Observer’s special feature on LGBTI immigration and asylum seekers in the lead-up to Australia Day. As Labor and Greens both responded, in the interest of transparency, our initial correspondence with the minister’s office is included instead.
Three requests in total were made and the reason offered for declining was the minister was on leave, but this was despite making media comment during this period.
From: “Miles Heffernan” (Star Observer)
Date: Dec 16, 2013 10:48 AM
Subject: Op-Ed Request for Minister Morrison
To: “Julian Leembruggen” (Scott Morrison’s office)
I trust this finds you well and I am sure your first 100 days in government must have been quite the experience.
I am now editing the features and opinion sections for the Star Observer, Australia’s most respected LGBTI news source. In recent times we have enjoyed the words of Premier O’Farrell, Minister Dutton and state health ministers Davis and Springborg.
LGBTI news can at times be an echo chamber and left-leaning. My boss (Elias Jahshan who is copied) and I are committed to balanced, fair coverage and have an opportunity that Mr Morrison may wish to contribute to.
For our Australia Day edition we are looking at some international affairs and Amnesty International are contributing a piece on LGBTI asylum seekers in Australia, being moved to places like Manus Island where it is illegal to be gay and has been grounds for other countries to issue refugee status to PNG nationals who identify as gay. They have indicated that they are strongly against the government’s policies which would come as no surprise.
I hope Minister Morrison is interested in putting his views as to why he sees it as important to adopt and pursue the policies of the government, including how these affect LGBTI asylum seekers.
The issue I am looking at is issue 1210, which is published on January 24, 2014. It is our Australia Day feature edition.
The deadline is January 17 at 4pm please. For this Minister we can allow up to 1000 words for print. It would be preferable to be around 800 but understand this is a complex issue. If the Minister agrees to the Op-Ed opportunity, he is welcome to provide a print version and an online version, with online not being constrained by word limits.
I have copied Elias, the editor-in-chief, in case you do not have his email at the Star.
Julian it would be much appreciated if you could indicate if this is of interest to the minister before 20 December 2013.
Miles Heffernan Features & Opinion Editor.
SHADOW IMMIGRATION MINISTER RICHARD MARLES:
The Immigration and Border Protection Shadow Minister Richard Marles was on leave at the time of print, but for the Star Observer’s special Soapbox feature on LGBTI immigration and asylum seekers, Michelle Rowland, the acting shadow minister, provided the following statement:
“When in government, Labor implemented the arrangement with PNG to help make sure fewer people would attempt the dangerous journey by boat to our shores. We took the necessary steps to help ensure the safety and well-being (of) asylum seekers in offshore detention, and we would expect the current government to be doing the same.
Labor made significant progress and reformed key areas of inequality for LGBTI Australians, such as social services, superannuation and retirement. Labor remains committed to progressing reforms in LGBTI equality – including seeking a parliamentary conscience vote on marriage equality.”
NOTE: According to the Australian Marriage Equality website, Ms Rowland is personally opposed to marriage equality.
Abbott is cruel and confused on those fleeing persecution – Christine Milne
LGBTI movement must think beyond national borders - Dennis Altman
Intersecting LGBTI and refugee rights – Senthorun Raj