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What will happen to gay asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea?


25 July 2013

Papua New Guinea criminalises homosexuality with imprisonment for up to 14 years. Where will this leave refugees persecuted for their identity? PhD student, Senthorun Raj (BA 2010, LLB 2012) writes.

In opinion piece for the UK newspaper, The Guardian, he stipluates, "Much has been written about the endemic violence in PNG and the absence of effective legal infrastructure to support refugees.

"However, little has yet been said about another important question: how will lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) asylum seekers fare in a place where their identity is a cause for criminal sanction?

"PNG criminalises homosexuality with imprisonment for up to 14 years.

"The criminal code - largely mirroring many other colonial laws - punishes acts that are deemed'unnatural offences'.

"Withpervasive cultural attitudes that consider gay and lesbian people to be both pathological and perverse, it is unsurprising that such laws specifically prohibit expressions of same-sex relationships.

"Under these new proposals, both LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees who arrive by boat would have to contend with a legal system that deems their behaviour immoral and their identities criminal.

"There is no indication whether PNG would, under their laws, consider such claims to be valid at all.

"Even here in Australia, where there are no criminal punishments and sexual orientation or gender identity claims are valid, 'coming out' can be fraught with anxiety.

"Can you imagine then having to disclose that you are being persecuted for being gay, when the place you are seeking asylum in believes you should be locked up for it?"

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