Jordanian LGBT+ activist finds new home in Australia

Jordanian LGBT+ activist finds new home in Australia after 18-month ordeal
2 min read
14 January, 2022
Jordanian LGBT+ activist AlShaima Omama AlZubi arrived in Australia on New Year’s Day after an 18-month ordeal that saw them become the subject of arrest warrants and missing person notices.
AlShaima Omama AlZubi arrived in Australia on 1 January on a humanitarian visa [LightRocket via Getty]

A Jordanian LGBT+ activist has reached Australia after an 18-month ordeal that saw them become the subject of arrest warrants and missing person notices.

AlShaima Omama AlZubi, who identifies as a lesbian and non-binary, arrived in Australia on 1 January on a humanitarian visa.

According to an Amnesty International report, AlZubi fled their family in Jordan for Turkey in July 2020.

Alzubi's family is powerful and has influence across the Middle East, Amnesty said, with some relatives working for the Jordanian government.

While in Turkey, AlZubi was the subject of multiple Interpol notices.

The 25-year-old managed to land in Lebanon in late December last year - but they were stripped of their passport, detained on unfounded charges, and “harassed” in Lebanese custody for five days prior to their flight, Amnesty said.

AlZubi’s passport was only returned to them on the day of their 30 December flight to Australia.

Amnesty said that there were concerns AlZubi's family were trying to force their repatriation to Jordan.

A Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesperson denied activists’ suspicions the country’s embassy in Beirut was involved in the arrest.

Since arriving in Australia, Alzubi has seen a therapist and found a new queer community.

“Now I feel supported, seen, heard and treated like a human being regardless of my beliefs, gender identity, and sexual orientation,” they told SBS News.

“I found strength and resilience by focusing on a safe future for me, for which I am thankful to the organisations and individuals, including the Australian Consulate in Lebanon for ensuring I got to my new home in Australia safe”, they added.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Jordan. However, most LGBT+ people in the country face widespread discrimination and stigma.