The experiences of multicultural and multifaith (MCMF) LGBTIQ people vary greatly across the wide range and diversity of migrant, refugee and ethno-religious communities in Victoria. It also varies according to other intersectional factors such as length of time in Australia, levels of education, urban or rural locations, and socio-economic status.
While many LGBTIQ people experience strong support from their cultural or faith communities, some experience isolation and discrimination if their sexuality and gender is not accepted by family, friends, community members and leaders, and service providers. The existence of gender and sexual diversity or intersex variations may not be acknowledged in some cultural or faith groups, or it may be seen as due to negative Western influences and lifestyles.
Those who have recently arrived in Australia may be particularly vulnerable due to a limited understanding of the family violence service system. They may also experience fear or mistrust of police and government agencies due to negative past experiences. Uncertainty of migration status can be a particular source of anxiety and vulnerability as well as potential tool of power and control in family violence perpetration, particularly where the abusive partner or family member, such as a father or brother, is the sponsor.
There are provisions in the Migration Act that mean someone can leave the relationship and still obtain permanent residency where their sponsor has acted or threatened to act in a way that made them or someone in their family unit fear for their safety.
These provisions were introduced in response to concerns that some people might remain in an abusive relationship because they believe they may be forced to leave Australia if they end it.
The provisions apply equally to married and de facto couples, and LGBTIQ family members such as siblings and children of a perpetrator.
It is essential applicants contact the Department of Home Affairs when their relationship with their sponsor ends, and notify them about any family violence immediately to avoid the sponsor withdrawing their sponsorship.
Refugee Legal can provide further confidential advice.