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Pacific partnerships to counter stigma and discrimination

Graphic: Group shot of workshop participants and facilitators

An APF-led workshop in Samoa has helped establish country-level partnerships that will better advance the rights of LGTBI people in Pacific countries

An APF-led workshop in Samoa has helped establish a series of country-level partnerships that will better promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGTBI) people in the Pacific region.

The workshop brought together 16 participants representing national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society organisations working for LGBTI rights from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa.

Participants described a range of issues that LGBTI people face in their respective countries. However, a number of common themes emerged, especially in relation to discrimination, bullying, violence and mental health issues.

A key focus of the meeting was to encourage conversations between the different groups and identify practical opportunities for joint action.

Suliqu Waqa, an advocate for transgender equality in Fiji and the Pacific, was a participant at the workshop.

"I know how effective and how important NHRIs are because I've accessed it as a minority, as a marginalised woman," she told Samoa Planet.

"We have these NHRIs and we need to strengthen their function and their role in terms of protecting the rights of everyone, including the LGBTI community. This seminar is an opportunity to collaborate with them," she said.

Graphic: Participants take part in workshop discussions

By the end of the week-long workshop, all NHRI and civil society participants had developed awareness raising projects that they would jointly deliver in their respective countries.

The workshop, held in Apia and hosted by the Ombudsman of Samoa, followed four weeks of online learning.

It is the first time Samoa has hosted an international event focused on sexuality and gender and it followed similar workshops held in Colombo and Manila for NHRIs and civil society organisations from countries in South Asia and South East Asia respectively.

This training course is part of a comprehensive program of activities, jointly developed by the APF and UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub, to support NHRIs in the region to work with LGBTI communities and better advocate for their human rights.

The training course, its training manual and the recent APF-UNDP conference on the Yogyakarta Principles, held in Bangkok in April 2017, were recently highlighted as examples of good practice in a statement presented to the UN Human Rights Council by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

Date: 12 June 2017

Representatives from NHRIs and civil society groups across the Asia Pacific region describe the challenges facing LGBTI people and the need to establish strong partnerships to better advocate for their rights.

Image credits

  1. Group shot of workshop participants and facilitators - APF
  2. Participants take part in workshop discussions - APF