Prominent LGBTIQ Australians joined a campaign pressuring Qantas to stop forced deportations of asylum seekers from Australia.
The Department of Home Affairs uses Qantas to transport asylum seekers between detention centres and additionally for involuntary deportations.
But refugee advocates say the Australian system for assessing asylum claims for asylum doesn’t meet international standards. Also, Qantas risks complicity in returning asylum seekers to persecution or harm.
However, many prominent Australians signed a letter to stop the deportations.
Tom Ballard, Benjamin Law, Peter Tatchell, Simon Hunt, Nayuka Gorrie, Maeve Marsden, Charlotte Mars, Cassie Workman among others backed the Stop Deportations to Danger campaign.
LGBTIQ community groups have also endorsed the campaign. Indeed, the Mardi Gras 78ers, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Switchboard Victoria and the Uniting Church LGBTIQ Network all signed the letter.
The letter reads: “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 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.”
Joining a bunch of folks here calling on @Qantas to stand up for the #SpiritOfAustralia and #StopDeportationsToDanger. Deportations suck and destroy lives. Get out that business please. More here: https://t.co/2jjPIMErHv pic.twitter.com/RtA3WTIZ7O
— Tom Ballard (@TomCBallard) August 1, 2019
Qantas voted down reviewing the policy at AGM
Despite opposition, at the Qantas October AGM, a majority of shareholders voted against a review of the policy of facilitating forced deportations of asylum seekers, SBS News reported.
Back then, a Qantas spokesperson said, “The government and courts are best placed to make decisions on the legal immigration status of individuals seeking to remain in Australia, not airlines. We appreciate that this is a sensitive issue.”
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford also said the company couldn’t act as a “third umpire” on individual immigration cases.
“We do not believe this is in the interests of shareholders or the broader community.”
“We don’t believe the action is really about Qantas at all. It’s about finding different ways to pressure the Australian government and the opposition to change its immigration policy.”
The Stop Deportations to Danger campaign is similar to one in the UK that successfully lobbied Virgin Atlantic last year to cease involvement in forced deportations.
Several US airlines also last year refused to transport children separated from their parents detained by US immigration authorities.
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