PRIDE Month - LGBTQI fight must continue, says Vulavou
We must continue the fight to build a safer and more inclusive society for all LGBTQI persons in the region, and ensure that the movement is well resourced to do so.
This was highlighted by Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN) Chief Executive Officer Isikeli Vulavou, as the world celebrates PRIDE Month.
Vulavou says it’s time to applaud the accomplishments of LGBTQI activists and their allies in the region and around the world - all of whom are working to ensure that every individual, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or sex characteristics, receive the full protection of the law and are treated fairly, equally and with dignity within their communities.
The CEO said for people of diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC), PRIDE Month promotes their dignity, equal rights, and self-affirmation and is a way of increasing society’s awareness of the issues they face.
“It is also a time to celebrate diversity, resilience and the contribution of persons of diverse SOGIESC with PRIDE, affirming that the community is an integral part of their countries,” Vulavou said.
The theme for this year’s PRIDE Month is “Politics in Art: The Arc is Long” – and it strives to honour the many contributions of LGBTQI artists and activists, as well as their accomplishments in bringing attention to LGBTQI and other challenges, as well as communicating the pain, beauty, and relevance of their battle for equality.
“As an organisation fighting for the human rights and well-being of LGBTQI communities in Fiji and the Pacific region, this PRIDE Month, we recognise and celebrate the valuable contributions of LGBTQI individuals to their families and communities across the Pacific, and we reaffirm our commitment to standing in solidarity with them in their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice.
“Despite all the progress in law, unfortunately, LGBTQI individuals throughout Fiji and the region continue to face violence, harassment, and discrimination simply because of who they are, and many law enforcement authorities often turn a blind eye to the hate speech and hate crimes that are still prevalent in the society. “Fiji and many Pacific countries need to strengthen existing laws that are meant to protect people and their right to live with dignity.”
Vulavou called on the Pacific region, which takes so much pride in its people, culture and tradition, to not rest until full equality for LGBTQI persons is achieved and codified into law.
“I call for genuine support, genuine allyship and commitment from partners and stakeholders to build a just and inclusive Pacific society that promotes the full human rights of LGBTQI persons.
“We are calling on you our businesses and corporate bodies in the private sector, government, development and donor partners and those in civil society to join us this PRIDE month celebrations and be inclusive and authentic in your allyship.
“We need resources to survive as an organisation, and more importantly, as a community."
The CEO said as a society, we must acknowledge the challenges that remain, and come together in support of the LGBTQI communities to foster a culture of equality and inclusivity - celebrating the courage, strength, and resilience that defines this most marginalized group.
“We urgently need to recognise the resilience and determination of the many LGBTQI individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically and hold to account those who violate their rights and freedoms. “PSGDN stands in solidarity with the LGBTQI community every day and we affirm our obligation to uphold their dignity, and dedicate ourselves to protecting them.”
PSGDN wishes the blue Pacific a happy and coulourful PRIDE Month.