Gay asylum seekers fear arrest for reporting rape in Papua New Guinea

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Gay asylum seekers to Australia fear reporting rape in case they are arrested for homosexuality.

Australia has been sending asylum seekers to the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea, where homosexuality is illegal.

Several gay men from Iran said they had been told they would be arrested if they spoke out about the threats and assaults they had experienced.

One man told the Guardian he had been raped twice in the year had been in the centre.

He said: “Most of the toilets here don’t have locks. When someone is in the toilets or bathrooms, they easily get inside.

“It’s happened for me sometimes that when I’m showering, guys… who have overflowing sexual desires, come inside. I’ve been able to kick them out sometimes but sometimes not.

“I didn’t want this incident to be reported [to the police] because of being afraid of the police and what if they find out [that I am gay] and arrest me. I [could be] jailed for 14 years.”

Refugees are due to be resettled in PNG, but gay men fear they will be arrested or even killed by local people. Many have said they would rather take their own lives.

Another man said: “Committing suicide is the only thing I can think of. I want to kill myself because, on the one hand, it is impossible for me to go back to Iran, and on the other hand, I am not able to tolerate this situation anymore.”

Workers at the centre have confirmed that rape and a sexual assault is a problem, but they are unable to speak out about it publicly.

The Australian immigration department denied gay asylum seekers would be reported to PNG authorities, but has since declined to comment.