GSL bars gay newspapers from Villawood

January 20, 2007

On January 11, SX News reported that the gay magazine had been barred from being provided to detainees at Sydney's Villawood immigration detention centre.

"On December 29, former Villawood detainee Motahar Hussein was attempting to deliver copies of both SX and the Sydney Star Observer to inmates in the centre, while on a private visit also attended by a representative of Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH)", SX reported. "Hussein and Simon Biber, co-convenor of CAAH, were told that they could not bring the publications into the centre, as they contained 'inappropriate content' and were 'pornographic'."

Members of Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) have been visiting the centre since August 2006, taking copies of SX and the gay-oriented Sydney Star Observer, along with Green Left Weekly, to give to detainees.

When SX questioned Global Solutions Ltd (GSL), the private firm that runs Villawood, about their ban a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) said that SX News was not banned from Villawood or any other detention centre.

"We do need to be mindful of what publications are allowed in, so as not to offend detainees, and to be sensitive to religious and personal beliefs", DIMA spokesperson Phil Allan told SX. "So certain publications, for instance pornographic magazines, are not allowed in. But in this case there is no ban, and SX can be taken into the centre."

Allan added that detainees could have SX delivered to them personally each week, needing only to ask an officer to arrange it for them. He said DMA would contact GSL to ensure that SX and the Star be delivered to detainees.

CAAH members will test this during their next visit to Villawood.

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