A cry for help from Villawood refugee prison

May 4, 2007

The following appeal by Ali B. Humayun, who has been detained in Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney for more than a year, was sent to Community Action Against Homophobia. It has been abridged for publication.

I am a Pakistani national. I traveled to Australia in early 2000 on a student visa and was enrolled at the University of Canberra for three years before dropping out owing to depression.

I graduated from high school and came to Australia to pursue university study. My first sexual encounter with a girl was in 2002 in Australia. I was expelled from the university in 2003, and in January 2005 I was brought to the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

A year and a half ago I began a same-sex relationship with a fellow detainee. He was recently released into the community after having his permanent residence reinstated. He continues to regularly visit me and our relationship is strong. But as I am the only person here known to be involved in a same-sex relationship, I am taunted and tormented by majority of the detainees.

I applied for asylum last year on grounds of my sexual orientation and in fear of persecution (owing to my sexuality) if returned to Pakistan. I did not apply for asylum previously because my plan was to graduate from university and apply for permanent residence. As a last resort I applied for refugee status, which [has] been declined.

I have exhausted my avenues of appeal and am writing to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and requesting he exercise his discretion on humanitarian grounds and overturn the decision of the Refugee Review Tribunal.

A vast percentage of detainees here were previously inmates at prisons. At least some would harbor homosexual feelings, but are too ashamed to come out of the closet. Instead, they taunt and torment those of us who have.

The rest of the detainees comprise people from poor, Third World countries (such as myself) that, out of sheer ignorance, join in the torment parade.

No- one knows what a person such as me has to go through to come out of the closet. All my life I have found it difficult to trust people [due] to years of sexual abuse at the hands of people entrusted by my family with taking care of me.

It's so unfair: people have married after coming into detention; have applied for spouse visas; and have been released into the Australian community as permanent residents. I am not even permitted to wed my partner. Being permitted to remain in Australia would allow me the opportunity to live my life free from oppression and prejudice.

The Refugee Review Tribunal believes I would be able to easily relocate to another part of Pakistan and live safely as long as I am discreet about my sexuality. My father, for one, has disowned me and my elder brother is waiting for me to return home so that he may "take care of me" in the name of the family honour. Dad and my brother want me dead.

Please use this information to assist my case.

[To contact Community Action Against Homophobia, phone Rachel Evans on 0403 798 420. Ali Humayun can be contacted on 0434 109 387.]

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