Australian government rejects safeguards for gay asylum seekers

The Australian government has rejected calls to provide guarantees that gay asylum seekers will not be sent back to countries where they face the death penalty.

MPs from the opposition Labor Party have called on the government to introduce safeguards for LGBT people in the asylum system, many of whom have been forced to flee countries where they face torture, violence, persecution or death.

However the government claims that changes to make the system less hostile towards LGBT people would lead to a risk of abuse.

According to Daily Mail Australia, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said: “Offering blanket protection to a group of individuals has the potential to encourage large numbers of un-meritorious applications from those who would seek to abuse the protection program to extend their stay in Australia.

“This would risk reducing public confidence in Australia’s humanitarian program and redirect resources from those applicants truly in need of protection.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (Stefan Postles/Getty)

The claim comes amid debate over a resolution submitted to the Australian Labor Party’s national conference.

If passed, the policy would automatically safeguard the rights of LGBT+ asylum seekers who come from countries that outlaw homosexuality- rather than forcing them to justify their fears of persecution.

The Department of Home Affairs is headed up by Peter Dutton, a strong opponent of LGBT rights.

Australia’s Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre (Scott Fisher/Getty)

Dutton attracted controversy during the country’s 2017 vote on equal marriage, when he criticised rapper Macklemore for performing gay anthem ‘Same Love’ at a National Rugby League final.

He said at the time: “I don’t think Australian parents taking kids to the footy want political messages down their throat.

“I think sporting events and workplaces are totally the wrong places for these political messages.

“I am into free speech – presumably two songs should be played, one for gay marriage and one against gay marriage.”

The politician did not identify what pop song opposing gay marriage he would like to be played.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton (Stefan Postles/Getty)

Dutton was also accused of casual homophobia when he told a gay business exec to “stick to knitting” rather than back equality.

He had lashed out at gay Qantas CEO Alan Joyce after the business leader signed a letter in support of equal marriage.

Dutton said: “Mr Joyce is an exceptional CEO… but if he has a particular view on any issue it should be expressed as an individual.

“It is unacceptable that people would use companies and the money of publicly listed companies to throw their weight around.

“I’d prefer publicly listed companies stick to their knitting and that is delivering the services for their customers and providing a return for their shareholders.”