A Jordanian LGBTQI+ ‘rights defender’ and refugee on their way to Australia has been detained in Lebanon. According to Amnesty International Australia, AOA, a 25-year-old lesbian, non-binary activist was arrested on December 21, 2021, in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut. 

Amnesty International Australia stated in a Christmas Day media release that AOA is a “vocal and courageous advocate for women and LGBTQI+ rights”.

They had been granted a humanitarian visa by the Commonwealth government, and were apprehended by Lebanese police two days before they were supposed to fly out to Australia.

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They will be extradited to their homeland of Jordan where they may face persecution, and it is believed that their “prominent family in Jordan” is “manipulating [their] repatriation”. 

Fleeing Violence And Persecution

AOA, according to Amnesty International, is a “victim of rape, sexual assaults, torture, forced marriage, forced conversion therapy, forced hospitalisation, and forced veiling abuse”, that dates back to when they were a child. They hail from a prominent Jordanian family, with some family members working for the government, including a former minister. The family’s influence extends across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Several media outlets “profiled” AOA where “[they were] recognised as [a] staunch human rights defender”. AOA had fled from Jordan to Turkey in July 2020 but had to “seek safety in a third country” after their family located them. 

“AOA has fought hard for over two years to flee their violent and oppressive family, to speak out against punishments for apostates, and to defend the rights of women, and the LGBTQI+ community,” Secular Rescue Case Manager Katrina Parker said. 

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On Tuesday, AOA was paying fees to Lebanese authorities when they were suddenly arrested, Amnesty International said. The authorities told them there was an Interpol Red Corner Notice for their arrest. 

‘AOA Must Be Saved From Their Extremist Family’

“AOA must be saved from their extremist family, and be allowed to flourish in a free country, safe from persecution,” Parker said. 

Amnesty International Australia challenged the Interpol Red Corner Notice and “understands” it has been cancelled. 

AOA is being detained in the Jordanian Embassy where the authorities are trying to repatriate her which is a “breach of international law”. When returned to Jordan, they possibly will be subjected to conversion therapy practices.

“We call on the Lebanese authorities to cooperate with the Australian authorities and the United Nations in Lebanon to ensure AOA can board the plane to Australia,” Amnesty International Australia Strategic Advocacy Campaigner Veronica Koman said. 

“As a refugee, AOA is under international protection and repatriating them means a violation to international human rights and refugee law.” 

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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