Prominent LGBTQI Australians have signed on to support the Stop Deportations to Danger campaign, after Qantas shareholders voted for the airline to continue transporting asylum seekers against their will for the Australian Government at their AGM last year.
The Deportations to Danger campaign is being facilitated by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility and is modelled on a similar campaign in Britain where the group United Kingdom Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants successfully convinced Virgin Atlantic to end all involvement in involuntary deportations in 2018.
High profile Australians including Judith Lucy, rock legend Mark Seymour, Professor Gillian Triggs, Janet Holmes à Court, Thomas Keneally, Margaret Pomeranz have already endorsed the main campaign, and now an LGBTQI contingent is being built.
Early signatories to the LGBTQI open letter to Qantas include Dennis Altman, Benjamin Law, Nayuka Gorrie, Peter Tatchell, Tom Ballard, Senthorun Raj, Simon Hunt, and Cassie Workman.
In the open letter seen by the Star Observer, the signatories write, “Australia has a brutal and inhumane refugee and asylum seeker policy which destroys lives, including those of children.”
“Numerous authorities have found that the system of refugee processing and detention falls foul of international law. ”
“Qantas has long championed the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. As marginalised and oppressed groups, we are not discrete and separate. Our communities intersect and overlap. We draw on the history of our struggles to stand with migrants and refugees who around the world are facing deportations to places of danger.”
“It is grossly hypocritical that Qantas continues to be complicit in the execution of the Australian government’s policy, by undertaking forced deportations and domestic transfers between detention prisons.”
The campaign has also been endorsed by the Mardi Gras 78ers, The Institute of Many, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network among other community groups.
One of those 78ers, Ken Davis, an organiser of the first Sydney Mardi Gras, said Qantas’ brand was built on “standing up for what is right, standing up for a fair go and standing up for those who can’t,” and he said it was putting that brand at risk.
“People seeking asylum also deserve fair treatment and should not be denied basic rights,” he continued.
“Qantas is choosing to deny these rights through implementing the Government’s toxic policy. I, as a member of the LGBTIQA communities, will not accept Qantas’ support as long as they fail to stand up for what is right.”
Melbourne Queer Film Festival co-president Molly Whelan agreed, saying it was “disappointing that brands like Qantas get right behind some issues, and refuse to take a stand on others.”
“Taking a stand is most important on the difficult issues that may cost them in the short term. I do hope Qantas follows the lead of the airlines in the US and UK who are refusing to be complicit in forced deportations and the contravening of international law.”
Jacob Thomas of the group Queens Young Leader said it was fundamental that the LGBTQI community got involved to support other marginalised communities.
“This goes for those of us in the LGBTIQA+ communities – throughout Australia and overseas – who have a right to demand our safety, security, freedom and equality, including those who seek asylum and refuge, Thomas said.
“There is no liberation while there is incarceration; there is no freedom while there is detainment; there is no equality while asylum is denied.”