AUSTRALIA’S treatment of gay refugees has been condemned in a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Melbourne-based legal advocacy organisation the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) presented a statement to the Human Rights Council, identifying an Australian Government policy that would see LGBTI refugees resettled in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where homosexuality is criminalised.

The statement outlined to the council the untenable situation of LGTBI refugees facing resettlement in PNG.

“People seeking asylum on the basis of their sexuality will be trapped in a horrible Catch 22. In seeking protection they will be required to disclose their sexuality, but by doing so they expose themselves to risk in PNG,” it read.

In PNG, same-sex sexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment.

The statement also broadly condemns the government’s position on asylum seekers, citing the death of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Berati on Manus Island in February.

The HRLC argued the government’s policies and practises put Australia in a hypocritical position given the government’s current campaign for membership of the Human Rights Council in 2018.

“It’s extremely difficult for Australia to be an effective advocate on the world stage if its own human rights track record is increasingly tarnished by a willingness to violate human rights for domestic political gain,” HRLC’s Director of Advocacy and Strategic Litigation Anna Brown said.

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young also condemned the hypocrisy of the Human Rights Council membership campaign.

“We cannot continue to breach international law and expect other countries to take us seriously as human rights advocates,” she said.

“If Australia seriously wants to become a member of the Council, the Abbott Government needs to stop violating human rights for political gain.”

The Star Observer contacted the Immigration Minister’s office for comment but did not receive a reply at the time of writing.


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