A visible show of support from Her Royal Highness Honourable Salote Lupepau’u Tuita Taione (Tongan Royal family), contrasted with open protests from anti-gay factions as LGBTQI organised groups convened the Pacific LGBTQI Human Rights Conference in May this year. Co-organized by the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN), Diverse Voices for Action and Equality (DIVA) and ARC International (ARC), the conference was hosted by the Tonga Leiti Association (TLA) in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.
A report on the conference, “Our Voices, our Communities, our Rights: Advancing Human Rights related to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression in the Pacific” is now available online.
Attended by 96 people, including participants from 12 different Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs), the conference objectives include connecting people and LGBTQI organised groups across the Pacific region and educating activists about international human rights law, recent international developments and agreed principles such as the Yogyakarta Principles.
Through panel presentations, discussions and plenaries, the Pacific LGBTQI Human Rights Conference saw a significant LGBTQI dialogue on Pacific society, culture and tradition. The sessions explored topics that includes
- SOGIE invisibility, discrimination, and advancing positive changes in law and in practice;
- Ethics, Spirituality, Religion: Sharing Pacific LGBTQI personal, group and national experiences
- Human Rights, Sexual Rights and Development: Engaging Regional and International Mechanisms
- Health and Wellbeing in the Pacific
The report documents the extensive discussion and the recommendations coming out of the sessions under several general headings of health, youth, security, movement building, monitoring and research. Read more in-depth analysis of the discussion here.
There was strong exhortation to groups in the region to develop strong and holistic positions on health and wellbeing that includes language on sexual and reproductive rights and health and the environment and foster youth leadership positions within their organisations.
Delegates identified the need to address the lack of proper sex education and bullying in schools, to monitor human rights abuses towards LGBTQI in the region and to sensitise police about LGBTQI and SOGI human rights as an immediate priority.
It is vital, delegates asserted, to have Pacific-focused and led dialogue about local LGBTQI human rights abuses and discrimination and produce region-specific research.
Read the full recommendations of the Pacific Regional Human Rights Conference 2015 here.