Sydney Town HallQueer activists will attend a protest rally at Sydney Town Hall on Sunday after condemning Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s promise last week to send all asylum seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for permanent resettlement.

The government’s announcement of its new asylum seeker policy on July 19 has caused consternation across the LGBTI community, as current laws in PNG allow for homosexual sex to be punishable by up to 14 years jail.

Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) co-convener Cat Rose said the grassroots group had worked with and advocated on behalf of queer refugees for a number of years. She labelled the government’s proposed policy as a humanitarian disaster in waiting.

“Australia has resettled a number of gay refugees who have arrived on our shores, recognising the reality of danger that homophobic persecution has put them in their home country,” Rose said.

“LGBTI people report difficulty finding employment and facing societal stigma in PNG, where illegality forces homosexual life underground. To make matters worse PNG has a high prevalence of AIDS, but people live in fear of seeking testing due to the illegal status of their sex lives.”

INFO: CAAH is organising a ‘pink block’ of queer people and supporters to attend the emergency rally against the federal government’s refugee policy on Sunday, July 28 from 12pm at Sydney Town Hall.

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