The XX Factor

Australia to Chris Brown: You’re Not Welcome Here


Photo by Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Australia has denied famed abuser Chris Brown’s visa application on character grounds, which stands to prevent him from giving scheduled performances in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. When Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault and making criminal threats against Rihanna in 2009, he dodged jail time in favor of probation, counseling, and community service. Those who called for a harsher sentence can count this weekend’s news as some evidence that his punishment didn’t end there.

Though Brown has toured in Australia twice since his 2009 conviction, in 2011 and 2012, the country has since cracked down on foreign abusers of women. In February, Australia denied entry to boxer Floyd Mayweather, who has been convicted of battery against his female partners on several occasions. Late last year, the country revoked the visa of Swiss-born, U.S.-based “pick up artist” Julien Blanc and refused a temporary visa request from Dan Bilzerian, a poker player and Instagram degenerate who’d been videotaped appearing to kick a woman in the head.

“People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you, ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia,’ ” said Minister for Employment and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash of her recommendation to the immigration minister to reject Brown’s application.

Several other countries have character or morality stipulations in their visa codes, though they’re often applied with ample room for discretion. Paris Hilton was turned away at a Japanese airport because of a drug conviction. Martha Stewart was refused entry into the U.K. for her criminal activity. Russia denied a visa to Selena Gomez, forcing her to cancel two shows, on the mere threat from activists who were lobbying Gomez to speak out against the country’s anti-gay laws at her concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow. 

The U.S. has denied entry to pop stars like Boy George, who’d been charged with false imprisonment of a sex worker in London; M.I.A., whose public comments and lyrics were interpreted as potential terrorist threats; and Amy Winehouse, who couldn’t accept her 2008 Grammy in person due to drug charges. Even a simple drug habit is enough to keep a potential visitor from crossing the U.S. border: People with multiple criminal convictions on their records, including those involving “moral turpitude,” such as spousal abuse and rape, can apply for an entry waiver. Drug abusers, like spies and Nazis, cannot.

Australia automatically bans any visa applicant who’s been sentenced to a year or more in prison for one crime, or a total of more than two years for multiple crimes. Brown didn’t pass that preset threshold, making Australia’s Brown embargo a bold statement to other nations on the severity of his crimes, which include a second assault conviction for attacking a man outside a Washington hotel.

Brown has 28 days to appeal the immigration minister’s decision. A statement posted on a Ticketek, where tickets for his Australian shows went on sale earlier Monday, indicates that his management might take that route: “We … have faith that a decision will be made with the full consideration of his continued personal growth, on-going philanthropic endeavours and desire to perform for his fans.” Whether or not Brown actually poses a threat to the Australian population—who could consider his continued violent behavior to decide for themselves—the country’s stand against intimate-partner violence sends a clear message to other abusers: Your right to travel the world is not absolute.