Refugee Review Tribunal officials have sought assistance from two Melbourne justice and gay law reform experts in developing training for members deciding cases where refugees are fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation.

Tribunal principal member Denis O’Brien told Senate Estimates Hearings that an offer of help from the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby had fallen through, but the Tribunal had conducted its own focus group discussions in Sydney and Melbourne.

Jamie Gardiner, a member of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Commission who has been involved in much of the country’s homosexual law reforms, and Kristen Walker, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, were approached by the Tribunal.

Gardiner said meetings would continue this week but he hoped the training would be ready in a few months.

“It’s a good thing they recognise the need for some expansion of their horizons in this area,” Gardiner told SSO.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle questioned the Tribunal’s training in Estimates hearings last year following the RRT decision to deport queer detainee Ali Humayun back to Pakistan, where he faced threats of violence by his family and police on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby were producing a report on the issues faced by queer refugees, but the report was not available this week.

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