This report is a submission by the Queer Sisterhood Project to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (“the CEDAW Committee” or the “Committee”) on the occasion of its consideration of the State of Australia’s implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at the 70th session taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, 2-20th July 2018.
The purpose of this report is to highlight the human rights violations of LGBTI asylum-seeking and refugee women.
Summary of Recommendations
- Urgently close the offshore processing centres and bring refugees and asylum seekers to Australia. In the interim, improve the quality of and access to appropriate medical facilities in offshore processing centres;
- End the policy of mandatory detention and impose time limits and periodic review on immigration detention;
- Ensure sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex (SOGII) status is accepted as grounds for seeking asylum in Australia as per 1951 Convention and relevant UN guidelines;
- Ensure that LGBTI individuals are not placed in the immigration detention;
- Ensure that LGBTI-sensitive training is mandatory for all workers and decision makers involved in the asylum-seeking process, and includes issues specific to lesbian and bisexual women and transgender and intersex people;
- Ensure that the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of a refugee to a territory where his or her life or freedom is threatened be implemented when considering LGBTI individuals seeking asylum;
- Recognise that durable solutions such as resettlement are the only viable solution for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees;
- Ensure that age, gender and diversity (that includes sexual orientation) are mainstreamed in the to-be-adopted Global Compact on Refugees and Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
- Ensure that legal protections against all forms of discrimination against women are in place regardless of age, sexual orientation and gender identity, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion or migration status;
- Ensure that the migration status does not impede access to justice for all women;
- Take all measures to remove gender pay gap in Australia and provide sufficient information to asylum-seeking and refugee women on the work rights and complaints mechanisms;
- Ensure equal access to education for refugees and asylum seekers, in particular women regardless of their visa status;
- Make its social security framework accessible to all people living in Australia regardless of their visa status. In the interim, reinstate the Status Resolution Support Services program in full;
- Ensure sufficient funding and resourcing for relevant non-government and civil society organisations working to support LGBTI people seeking asylum and refugees;
- Ensure sex, age and diversity disaggregated data collection on refugees and asylum seekers.