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Sharing stories for change and inclusion

Graphic: Group photo of conference participants

Advocates from across the Pacific have met together to develop a roadmap to promote the inclusion of LGBTQI people by 2030.

Around 120 people from across the Pacific recently met together to share stories of resilience and develop a roadmap to promote the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning and intersex (LGBTQI) people by 2030.

The 2nd Pacific Human Rights Conference: Advancing Human Rights related to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression in the Pacific also provided an opportunity to strengthen links between advocates and share examples of effective advocacy at the national, regional and international levels.

Participants from 14 Pacific countries attended the week-long conference – held in Nadi, Fiji, from 28 May-1 June 2018 – and drew attention to a number of serious challenges facing LGBTQI communities.

These challenges include laws that criminalise same-sex conduct and high levels of violence, harassment and discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.

Conference presenters explained that such laws, attitudes and behaviours limited the ability of LGBTQI people to fully engage in their communities and hindered effective public health responses to HIV and AIDS.

Graphic: Conference activities asked participants to reflect on contemporary challenges

Despite the challenges, advocacy efforts by civil society groups had delivered substantive changes in recent years, with Nauru and Palau recently decriminalising same sex conduct.

And in 2011, a joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council – which called for an end to criminal sanctions, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity – was endorsed by Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Discussions at the conference stressed that all people across the Pacific should be treated equally, with dignity and respect, and should have opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

The conference also provide an opportunity for participants working on these issues to take stock of the current needs within LGBTI communities, identify advocacy priorities and coordinate their engagement with regional and international bodies.

The Roadmap to Achieve LGBTQI Inclusion in the Pacific by 2030 drafted during the conference will be available soon.

The Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa attended the conference, with support provided by the APF.

The Office is currently working on a project, funded by the APF and UNDP, to strengthen the right to health of Fa'afafine and Fa'afatama communities, as a key component of the government's response to recommendations made to it through the UN Universal Periodic Review.

Date: 15 June 2018

Image credits

  1. Group photo of conference participants - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa
  2. Conference activities asked participants to reflect on contemporary challenges - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa