Pride Parade float highlights queer refugee persecution on Manus Island

November 28, 2014
Protesters highlight queer rights on Manus Island at the Perth Pride Parade on November 23

Refugee activists organised a float in the Perth pride parade on November 23 to raise awareness of the discrimination queer refugees face on Manus Island.

About 50 people took part in the float, dressed as prison guards and detainees in bright orange jumpsuits.

The float was organised by an alliance of queer activists and refugee advocates, and attracted a broad group of people.

Refugees living in detention on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea face a possible 14-year prison term if they disclose they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

This kind of persecution could be one of the reasons they left their home country and sought asylum in the first place.

The federal government has refused to allow them to be resettled in Australia.

One refugee wrote a letter published in the Guardian which said: “I wish our boat had sunk in the ocean and stopped me living the most painful year in my life. I thought Australia and its people would be my protector, but they taught me otherwise.”

Another wrote: “I have to hide my sexuality because in this country, like Iran, there are a lot of people – fanatics – whom if they find out anyone is gay they would harass them and maybe even try to kill them.

“I have to hide my personality once again. I have to live as someone else.”

Parade participant Farida Iqbal said the float was “the first step towards an ongoing campaign to stand up for queer refugees on Manus Island.

“Most people have no idea about what’s going on in offshore detention camps, let alone what it’s like for queer refugees there. It’s up to the queer community to stand up for refugees and get the issue out there.”

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