LGBT Activist Detained in Lebanon, Finally Arrives in Australia

LGBT Activist Detained in Lebanon, Finally Arrives in Australia
Image: Images: Delia Giandeini on Unsplash / Amnesty International

After fleeing to Turkey from their home country of Jordan in July 2020, LGBTQI activist Alshaima Omama Alzubi has finally arrived in Australia.

The 25-year-old Jordanian refugee who identifies as lesbian and non-binary and who previously went by the initials of “AOA” boarded a flight to Australia on December 30.

Spent the Last Three Years Trying to Seek Refuge in Australia

They have spent the past three years trying to seek refuge in Australia, and in that time, they’ve lived in four different countries and been served numerous Interpol notices.

They were detained in Lebanon for nearly a week during Christmas last year. While stuck there, Alzubi said they were “harassed” and “terrified of getting deported.”

According to SBS News, they received help from “non-government” and “human rights” organisations as well as Australian diplomats in Lebanon to “get them to safety.”

Upon arriving in Australia on January 1, Alzubi told SBS News, “Now I feel supported, seen, heard and treated like a human being regardless of my beliefs, gender identity, and sexual orientation.”

Alzubi has been placed on a humanitarian visa. SBS News reported they’re also receiving counselling and have been “introduced to their local LGBTQI+ community.”

“[I want to] move on in my life, continue my education, [and have] a great career and independence,” Alzubi said.

‘Finally, I Have the Chance to be Myself’

They’re grateful for the help they received from non-governmental organisations and the Australian government, and according to SBS News, they “feel accepted for their sexuality and beliefs” in their new home of Australia.

In a media release on Christmas Day last year, Amnesty International said that Alzubi had been arrested on December 21 in Beirut and had been issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice, which was eventually cancelled.

It also said Alzubi’s family in Jordan was “prominent” and “manipulating [Alzubi’s] repatriation.” Some of their family members were working for the Jordanian government, one being a former minister.

The family’s “influence,” according to Amnesty International, extended “across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.”

“Finally I have the chance to be myself without people shaming me and trying to kill me for it,” Alzubi said.

‘Never be Sorry for Who You Are’

They also said, with regards to LGBTQI people and women in the Middle East, “there’s always a way to be free. We just need the right people to help us.”

Their message was to “never be ashamed of being yourself, never be sorry for who you are” and “don’t let religion or anyone control your being. No one on Earth can be you.”

Despite Jordan decriminalising homosexuality in 1951, LGBTQI people still experience discrimination, harassment, and violence.

According to World Value Surveys conducted between 2017-2020, 93 per cent of Jordanians would not like to have homosexuals as neighbours.

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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