Homosexuals are Citizens, Too

                                 By Fair Minded

“The last minute withdrawal of the permit to allow the sexual minority group (LGBT) to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by the Fiji authorities reveals a reactionary and non-inclusive side of the current government.  A month ago the authorities including the police approved the permit application for the march to mark the day. Representatives of sexual minorities and human rights advocates spent a lot of time and resources in preparation for the event. However, on the eve of the peaceful walk through the city, the police cancelled the permit for ‘security reasons’. The organisers were told on Friday morning, just hours before the march was to take place n that the permit has been withdrawn.

In my view, and many agree with me, this action has nothing whatsoever to do with security but has much to do with a mindset that is intolerant towards sexual minorities and their treatment as equal citizens of the republic. Far from being socially inclusive there are powerful individuals in institutions such as the Fiji Police Force who are prepared to discriminate very openly, publicly and arbitrarily because they cannot be held accountable for their prejudicial action. This is clearly unacceptable.

The Fiji Police must provide a detailed account of what security risks  were posed by a peaceful march by members of the sexual minority community and human rights advocates to the city and the country that they were so duty bound to cancel the march at the ‘last minute’. Perhaps the officer approving the permit did not know the meaning of ‘homophobia If he is reading this, it means fear or hatred of homosexuals

Thankfully, another event organized to commemorate International  Day against Homophobia and Transphobia,  held a day earlier, went ahead without a hitch and was well attended (thankfully too, the PER has been lifted) at USP with a panel discussion on the theme, “Combating Homophobia and Transphobia in Education through Education”  The panelists provided useful facts and figures and insights on the theme that contributed to a better understanding of the issues and challenges faced by sexual minorities in education and wider society.”

Panelists included Tessa Mackenzie, lay minster, Anglican Church,Tara Chetty, feminist activist, Fiji Women's Rights MovementKris Prasad, LGBTIQ youth activist, and Ashwin Raj, USP STAR Manager, academic and activist. The meeting was opened by Professor Susan Kelly, Deputy Vice-Chancellor- Learning, Teaching, and Student Services, followed by a screening of a new video message from the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay.


Paula said…
Arbitrary decisions and prosecutions at the whim of the PM or the AG have been the hallmark of this regime for the last six years. All those who dream with the fairies that we are now entering a new era of freedom of expression and assembly should perhaps wake up. This regime is not giving anything, not even a permit for a completely harmless demo against homophobia. Where do we go from here? I honestly don't know, but what I sense is that a peaceful transition towards an inclusive democracy is the most unlikely outcome of what is offered to us as an unrestricted dialogue about Fiji's future.
'Get real' and grow up! said…
@ a harmless demo against homophobia.....?

You appear to suggest that the 'demo' will be harmless in itself, with no risk of serious consequences should it be infiltrated and subverted to other ends? Yet, we have a continuous and repetitive history in Fiji of just this taking place over at least forty years. Why we would permit history to repeat itself?

Indeed, why would we permit our young people to be so ignorant of history that they effectively see no risk in what they planned? Are they unaware of how deeply offensive their behaviour is to some people? For a multiplicity of reasons: faith, culture, health & hygiene, fear of disease and death.

Yes, it sounds bad but it is very real. Noises may be made about 'anti-discrimination' decrees and global acceptance of differences but the reality is that visceral hatred exists in some quarters. That hatred may be exploited for other venal ends. We need to rapidly grow-up and "Get Real" about such things. Start with seriously informing ourselves and taking responsibility for our own and others' futures.
Anonymous said…
@ Fair Minded

I think you underestimate the strength of homophobic opinion in Fiji. It is backed by the Churches and they are a very powerful influence.

A march through Suva by this group carries with it the risk of violence (both verbal and physical) being visted upon them. They will be pilloried, spat at etc and the risk of them being injured is very real.

Good call Naivalurua!
Lesley said…
Easy to drop labels on those who disagree with you. Just because someone believes that gay marriage and homosexuality is wrong doesn't make someone "homophobic". Everyone should be treated equally but no-one should be forced to believe in or agree with something that they personally believe to be against what they believe in. There is a well organised pro "gay" campaign sweeping the world at present which is aimed at making those who disagree with the homosexual lifesyle look bad and "homophobic". Going on latest trends, the heterosexual is increasingly becoming the minority....and an endangered species!
Anonymous said…
@ Lesley

Homosexuality as not an alternative 'lifestyle'.

Homosexuality involves perverse and unatural sexual behaviour that, between men, is a major cause of HIV aids

Stop being in denial
Lesley said…
Anonymous - I am not in denial.I don't disagree with you. In my opinion homosexuality (both men and women) has become a lifestyle choice with some - especially so when a person has been married (man and woman) and had children, then all of a sudden they "find" themselves and declare that in fact, all along, they are actually gay.
Freedom of Information cannot wait said…
There is much that is dishonest and duplicitous encompassing the chosen conduct of many. But it is bi-sexual behaviour which poses the greatest threat to a small society like Fiji. Especially one where mothers, babies, school-age childen and the elderly are so frugally provided for by the state (and often not at all by their immediate family members). A sad fact of modern life.

Much greater individual responsibility is required of all legally adult persons in their sexual mores. The risk they pose to the moral, mental and physical health of the innocent people associated with them (particularly former wives and off-spring) should be measured. Their often ignorant, self-indulgent and risk- prone behaviour should be capable of challenge in the civil and criminal Courts with severe penalties exacted for promiscuous, unprotected and undisclosed former and current sexual behaviour.

We have an impending tragedy of hiv/AIDs waiting for us in the wings. The ambit and reach of this tragedy cannot wait for democracy to 'kick in'. It will 'kick us in the butt' while we wait. This is why we must demand a realistic approach which shuns prudish attempts to contain it in walls of silence. No Culture of Silence may continue to cover the situation we face. Freedom of Information is urgently required. It must be applied without further delay. Those who stand in its way are entirely 'Beyond the Pale'. They will answer to the generations to come and to the survivors who remain to tell the tale.
Anonymous said…
@ Lesley

If you reduce homosexuality to its lowest common denominator, it involves perverse or aberrant sexual conduct.

To put it bluntly; how can anal sex become the basis of an alternative lifestyle?

Many people find it disgusting. And thats why the sodomists or so called 'pillow biters', should not put themselves out there on a parade to show off their perversity.

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