News : Article

Campaign rallies for LGBTI rights in the Pacific

Graphic: Participants at the launch of the Pacific Free & Equal campaign

The APF has joined forces with other partners in the region to support the launch of the UN’s Pacific Free & Equal campaign in Suva.

 Logo
 Logo
 Logo

With eight countries in the Pacific still counting same-sex relations as a criminal act, the United Nations recently launched its Pacific Free & Equal campaign in Suva.

The campaign, which was launched on 5 August 2015, aims to start a conversation about acceptance and improved rights protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Laws alone are not enough. I ask everyone in the Pacific to take action for equality. Together we can stop bullying, violence and other forms of discrimination against people simply because of who they are or whom they love.

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, President of Fiji

Speaking at the launch, the President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, said that silence is the biggest enemy in the fight for equal rights.

"Let us break this together by standing up and speaking out. That is the only way we will be able to end homophobia and transphobia and put an end to the violence and discrimination that we all have seen or heard of," he said.

Ratu Epeli Nailatikau called on Pacific nations to join the fight for LGBTI equality.

His comments were strongly supported by UN Resident coordinator Karen Allen who encouraged Pacific governments to make legal reforms to protect the rights of all people, including those who are LGBTI.

A powerful video featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people from across the Pacific was launched as part of the campaign.

Graphic: President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau

The role of religious communities to challenge prejudice was highlighted by the Superintendent of the Methodist Church of Fiji, the Reverend Jeremaia Waqainabete.

Human rights activists, the national human rights institutions of Samoa and New Zealand, and UN officials from across the Pacific attended the launch, along with government representatives from Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Fiji.

The APF was proud to co-sponsor the launch of the Pacific Free & Equal campaign, which is a joint initiative of UN agencies in the Pacific.

Commissioner Richard Tankersley from the New Zealand Human Rights Commission said the launch was a cause for celebration for the peoples of the Pacific.

"I look forward to its 'LGBTI Rights are Human Rights' message spreading far and wide as a result," he said.

The APF is currently developing a manual for national human rights institutions on promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people, which will be used in a blended learning training course for staff of our member institutions.

For more information on the campaign, visit the Pacific Free & Equal Facebook page.

Date: 14 August 2015

"I'm a Proud Pacific Islander" is one of two videos created by the Pacific UN Free & Equal campaign.

Image credits

  1. Participants at the launch of the Pacific Free & Equal campaign - Pacific Free & Equal, Facebook
  2. President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau - UNICEF Pacific, Facebook