While the government is continuing with it’s line about prioritising “women, children and families” from “persecuted minorities” in the intake of 12,000 refugees from Syria, it is difficult to imagine a minority more persecuted than gay men living in Syria and Iraq. The so-called Islamic State’s notorious snuff movies include footage of these people being pushed to their deaths from high buildings and their bodies pelted with stones by the jeering crowd, just for good measure. Many of those who have escaped this fate have suffered rejection, if not physical assault, by members of their own families, as compellingly described by Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas.

And yet the guidelines sketched out for the 12,000-strong intake of refugees from the region do not appear to provide a space for them. Tony Abbott’s announcement of the program emphasised that “women, children and families” are to be regarded as the priority. Single men — and one suspects single Muslim men in particular — are not wanted on Team Australia.

It might be a stretch to imagine Abbott modifying “women, children and families” to “women, children, families — oh, and gays”, but if he’s lookin for persecuted minorities, they are there.

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Peter Fray

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