Free my LGBTIQ friend from Australian immigration prison

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My friend, Ali * has been held in immigration detention for EIGHT years.  While that is soul-destroying in itself, what has also worn him down is the constant battle to hide his true identity, just to survive. Ali is LGBTIQ, and because of this, he is just as unsafe in detention as he was in his country of origin.  That’s why I am pleading for him to be released.

To come out as someone who is LGBTIQ in a place like immigration detention comes with the risk of assault, harassment, or worse.  LGBTIQ people are often shunned in detention, and live in fear of being outed to their families, friends and communities.  

Ali and I became friends while I was also held in immigration detention.  We bonded over being from the same country.  Both of us had fled our birth nation due to well-founded fears of persecution.  Looking for safety, we traveled halfway around the world to a country we thought would shelter us and provide an opportunity to begin a new life.

I am now out of detention, and have finally been able to begin that new life that I dreamed of for so long.  Ali remains inside, in more ways than one. His sexuality is something that he must keep hidden.  His partner, whom he met online, is trans, so he must keep their relationship hidden as well.  He lives in a constant state of fear of being outed by a slip of the tongue, or someone guessing the truth of his identity. 

After Ali came out to his family, they disowned him.  His sister, however, who is in the Australian community, has accepted Ali and will support him if released.  Inside detention, Ali has no support, apart from when I was with him and his stalwart legal representative.

To date, the Department of Home Affairs refuses to reopen Ali’s case. He sits in limbo, as he cannot be returned to his country of origin where he will face violence and persecution.  

Will you join our call to demand that Peter Dutton, Alan Tudge and the Department of Home Affairs grant Ali a visa to save him from the risks he faces every day on Australian soil?

Please, sign and share this petition and show Ali that he is not alone.

From Ali’s friend, Thomas (name also changed to protect identity)

(Photo credit - Sergei Supinsky)