Papua New Guinea, where homosexuality is illegal, should dispatch LGBTI refugees to a third country, but it was no concern of Australia's, Immigration head Mike Pezzullo told a Senate estimates hearing last night. And Immigration bureaucrats administering the government's policy were "traumatised" when people criticised offshore processing.
The Department of Immigration, which earlier had confessed to a $200 million-plus error in its annual report, was appearing before the Senate's Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee, where Western Australian Senator Louise Pratt asked the department how many asylum seekers sent by Australia to Manus Island had been granted refugee status based on justified fear of persecution over their sexual orientation or gender identity. Immigration officials said it was a matter for the equivalent PNG department and they kept no records. Pratt then asked what happened to such refugees, since homosexuality is a criminal offence in PNG. Pezzullo responded that the matter wasn't his department's responsibility: Australia's only obligation was not to send them back to their country of origin (refoulement) and its responsibilities ended when it handed them over to PNG.