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Countering violence and discrimination against LGBTQI people

Graphic: Participants at the national consultation organised by the Fiji’s NHRI

Fiji’s NHRI and local activists will develop an action plan to better protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

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A national plan of action is being developing by Fiji's national human rights institution and local activists to better protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people in the Pacific island nation.

The plan of action will draw on the insights and experiences shared by 70 participants at a two-day national consultation convened by the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission.

Participants described the multiple challenges they face in their daily lives, such as discrimination in their homes, at work, in schools, when accessing health services and the way they are treated by law enforcement officials.

A number also shared stories of harassment, vilification and violence based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Participants welcomed the chance to talk about possible ways to build greater awareness of the marginalisation of intersex people in Fiji, due to discrimination and violence based on their sex characteristics.

A key goal of the consultation process was to create a safe space for people to share their stories, as well as to engage with new activists and deepen the relationship between the Commission and LGBTQI communities in Fiji.

A decision was made at the consultation to establish a working group that will be tasked with developing a plan of action and practical strategies to address the discrimination, harassment and violence experienced by LGBTQI Fijians.

The consultation was an opportunity to start identifying some of the issues that participants feel need to be addressed. Five areas that were initially discussed included: addressing police intimidation of sex workers; violence; schools; health; and education and awareness raising.

The national consultation, held in Suva on 26-27 July 2018, was supported by the APF and UNDP as part of a regional project to strengthen national human rights institutions in their efforts to promote and protect the rights of LGBTQI communities.

Other projects being undertaken by APF members include:

  • Developing national guidelines/regulations to counter stigma and bullying of LGBTI school students (Timor Leste)
  • Strengthening the right to health of Fa'afafine & Fa'afatama communities as a key component of the government's response to recommendations made to it through the UN Universal Periodic Review (Samoa)
  • Building closer partnerships with LGBTI communities in regional areas to improve the Commission's delivery of services to those communities (Philippines)
  • Identifying key challenges in laws and policies for legal gender recognition of transgender people (Bangladesh)
  • Advocating for the decriminalisation of same-sex relations and promoting implementation of the Commission's guidelines on ethical media reporting of LGBTI issues (Sri Lanka).

Date: 21 August 2018

Image credits

  1. Participants at the national consultation organised by the Fiji’s NHRI - APF/Jack Byrne