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Blog Posts (14)
- Be careful of what you say; PSGDN urges Fijian politicians
The following comments have been made by the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Sexual & Gender Diversity Network, Isikeli Vulavou: Extremist politicians like Pastor Tuiloma Tawaivuna of All Peoples Party, Mesake Tukai of Unity Fiji and their allies who are peddling inflammatory and discriminatory rhetoric against the LGBTQI+ community must be taken to task by the relevant authorities; As social media platforms fail to enforce their own standards — enabling a wave of online anti-trans, anti-LGBTQI+ hate to grow without restraint — these political extremists are wielding dangerous influence, seeking to radicalize Fijians, incite hate against LGBTQI+ people, and mobilize the extremists within their base ahead of the elections; But the rise of this online vitriol doesn’t just have political implications — there are deadly, real world consequences as violent rhetoric leads to stigma, radicalization, and ultimately violence; For a while now, some politicians have made the LGBTQI community in Fiji a target of their hate speech and political nonsense; We have noted that the intensity of these attacks has increased significantly since August 2022, and as we get closer to election day; The display of homophobia and transphobia from some political parties, leaders, and candidates who want as many votes in order to represent us in Parliament is appalling, to say the least; The hateful, dehumanizing, demonizing, full of lies, and nonsensical rhetoric of divide and rule remarks made by some politicians, who are supposedly the custodians of democracy, good governance, and human rights, and directed at the LGBTQI community in general, has absolutely no place in the political arena and must be called out at all levels; With political campaigns in full swing, this is the time when many politicians, including those we haven't heard from in the last four years, will spring to life, employing a variety of strategies to win your vote; Many opportunists would accomplish this by spreading lies and hatred and weaponising biblical verses to support arguments against same-sex marriage, gender identities, and the existence of LGBTQI people in our society; Many politicians, who are also the so-called religious leaders in their communities, would use the Bible as a weapon against LGBTQI+ people and adopt a "pick and mix" approach to scripture, selecting what appeals to suit their prejudices and agendas while ignoring other texts; These Bible bashing, erroneous use of God's word, and hateful remarks directed at the LGBTQI+ community by political parties, leaders, or candidates should never be tolerated, be condemned at all levels and must end immediately; Such actions can translate into real hate and violence for the already marginalized and vulnerable community in the streets; I urge Fijians not to believe the lies some political party leaders and candidates spread about the LGBTQI+ community in Fiji. Their interpretation is far from the truth and often filled with malice, hatred, homophobia, poor upbringing, and a lack of knowledge about the day-to-day realities of LGBTQI people; I call upon politicians to refrain from using or targeting someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation when campaigning; If you want to debate, talk about your policies, talk about the day-to-day challenges Fijians face in putting food on the table, talk about the cost of living, access to quality healthcare, medicines and education, and how you plan to better our lives and how you intend to look after us collectively—but not the bodies of the LGBTQI community as a political football to further marginalize and exclude them for your political gain; I call upon the LGBTQI+ community in Fiji to be on alert and report these harmful politicians who make hateful utterances to the relevant authorities. Utilize these legal redress mechanisms and let the law deal with them; Politicians have an influential role, a position of power, and a platform to promote measures that help societies protect the most vulnerable, spread love, acceptance, and peace, and help create a just society where everyone, irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender, and sex live free from prejudice; We need our political leaders to be inclusive, talk to the LGBTQI communities before drafting policies, invite LGBTQI individuals to make valuable contributions to the party and the country, and most importantly, to come and talk to us and other LGBTQI organizations if they need information or clarification, instead of saying the wrong things and misleading the public; The LGBTQI community needs safety and social security nets to be able to participate fully in political and civic spaces and to be effective contributing members of their community; This is an important area political parties and leaders now need to focus on—they need us; I would also want to make a call to the media organizations covering the elections to not sensationalize LGBTQI+ issues without consulting the community first. You need to understand the repercussions this can have on the already marginalized community and the violence, hate, and discrimination it can trigger; We need to free our LGBTQI+ people from violence, discrimination, hate crime, and their daily struggle to live a just, fair, and dignified life. For more information, contact PSGDN Communications Lead Nasik Swami at email@example.com
- HIV response crisis in Fiji
There is a crisis in HIV response in Fiji. That’s the warning from Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network Chief Executive Officer Isikeli Vulavou on World AIDS Day today. Vulavou says ever since international donor funds (the GFATM and PRISP2 in 2008 and 2014, respectively) ended in Fiji, the Fijian Government’s resource allocation for eradicating HIV and AIDS has gradually dwindled from FJ$500,000 per year and depleted over the years to only about FJ$200,000 now. The CEO says this lackadaisical attitude, poor response, and weak commitment from the government, international donors, and others have clearly contributed to Fiji becoming one of the top three countries for rising HIV infections (>100% between 2010 and 2020) in the Asia and Pacific region and one of 38 globally as per the latest 2021 AIDS Datahub updates. The national total of people living with HIV in Fiji in 2021 had risen to 804 people, and the release of the latest statistic s on this day from the Ministry of Health will surely show a doubling of the annual new HIV infection rates. "On this path, Fiji will definitely fail to meet any of the targets for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment set out in the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, with progress on HIV prevention lagging particularly far behind. This is our last chance to create sustained momentum for the policies, programs, and funding that are needed to end HIV as a global health threat by 2030." Vulavou says more than ever, Fiji urgently needs evidence-based responses and renewed political will, especially in face of the additional burdens imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. "The government of Fiji needs to act now. We need the government to scale up domestic funding and reach out to the Global Fund for HIV and other donors for more international funding." The CEO says Fiji and other governments in the Pacific need to direct the great majority of prevention funding for prevention, testing, treatment, and advocacy to community-led responses. "They also need to protect and promote space for civil society to be able to work in an enabling human-rights based environment." World AIDS Day is marked annually for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. The CEO says human rights are fundamental to an effective HIV response and to the health of all people in Fiji and the Pacific. Vulavou says despite the protection and promotion of people’s human rights being fundamental in the fight against HIV, there continues to be serious attacks on these rights in many Pacific Island States, creating inequalities that perpetuate the AIDS pandemic. “The day is very important because it reminds the public and government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education,” the CEO said. “We know that by improving respect for human rights, we can go a long way to curbing the spread and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. “We need to empower our women, girls, and LGBTQI people to make decisions about their own sexuality, and ensure those living with HIV/AIDS have the same rights to information, association, and freedom of speech, treatment and quality healthcare as those without the infection.” Vulavou says any opportunity we get must be used to educate and advocate about the importance of decreasing the spread of HIV/AIDS, and protecting those living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination and mistreatment based on their status. “Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and homophobia fuel the HIV epidemic in marginalised people, in particular transgender women, gay and bisexual men and sex workers in the region and deprives them of their right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. “We must equalize for marginalised people. We will not end AIDS unless we can end it for everyone.” Vulavou says while it is often a challenge to work together, everyone, including our teachers, human rights activists, health care workers, politicians and religious leaders must work together to confront the taboos associated with HIV/AIDS. “Together we can challenge the attitudes and beliefs that lead to discrimination and inequality. We must encourage open and inclusive discussion on the difficult issues surrounding the AIDS epidemic, including discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, poverty, and HIV and AIDS status. “Our governments cannot afford to be complacent about the killer disease and divert all the attention and focus to COVID-19 and climate change. “If our governments and leaders don’t take bold actions to stop the spread of HIV, we will have to dig deep and work harder to stop the reversal of the gains that have been made over the years.” Vulavou says as we mark the day, we must remember the many Pacific islanders whom we have lost to the disease, acknowledge the significant advances we have made, and recognize the many setbacks that we have to deal with to achieve a world truly free of AIDS. Ends... For more information, contact PSGDN Communications Lead Nasik Swami at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Vulavou: Let’s celebrate trans resilience and legacy
Let us honour the lives of the many transgender and gender non-conforming people in Fiji and the Pacific who have been taken from us by violence rooted in bias, hate, and intolerance. This is the message from Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network Chief Executive Officer Isikeli Vulavou as the LGBTQI community in the Pacific and the worldover mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) tomorrow - November 20. TDoR is marked annually in many parts of the world to honor the memory of people who have been murdered, often very brutally, in anti-transgender violence and for challenging ideas about what it means to be male or female, or something else. Caption: Members on the LGBTQI community during a candlelight vigil in Suva. The theme for this year is "Resilience” – with a focus on creating a space where people of all ages, races, genders, abilities, and classes can come together as a community to remember the victims of anti-transgender violence. Vulavou says the theme is very reflective of Pacific Islanders, and the day is a great opportunity for the region to pause and remember those we have lost, and also to help raise awareness about the persistent transphobia, stigma, and discrimination experienced by the trans-community in the Pacific and the urgent need for something to be done about it. The CEO says in Fiji and the Pacific, transgender and gender non-conforming people continue to be subjected to staggering levels of violence, verbal abuse & harassment, and discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or expression. "We can’t deny that the Pacific has a very rich cultural history which was inclusive of transgender and gender diverse people, however, their existence has been overshadowed by colonialism which attempted to erase them, leading to the structural discrimination, violence, and stigma that they face today. "Transgender individuals continue to face barriers to justice and persistent stigmatization, as well as marginalization and underrepresentation across health, employment, economic, and social systems, and these have been worsened by the multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic." Vulavou says despite all the efforts and awareness-raising by transgender and LGBTQI civil rights groups, many Pacific countries such as the Cook Islands, Kiribati, PNG, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu continue to criminalize LGBTQI people, creating an environment of fear and installing systemic barriers to freedom, equality, and just living. “Health services are devoid of specific transgender health services and lack of gender recognition for them as they continue to be forcefully lumped together with women and men. "I call upon Pacific Island leaders, parliamentarians, and lawmakers to combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people and criminalizing them. "Our governments must not turn away from their suffering but address the structural conditions and inequalities that shape transgender people’s everyday lives. If we don’t prioritize this now, we will continue to make them vulnerable to future crises, and we will continue to hear devastating news in the media every day. "Our leaders must strive for a Pacific where transgender people should be able to receive an education, seek employment, access health care, especially transgender health care, and engage democratic institutions safely and with dignity, no matter where they live." Vulavou says that as resilient and accepting Pacific islanders, we need to draw strength from one another to take on the uncertainties, address the epidemic of violence, hate, and discrimination, and advance equality for transgender and gender diverse people. "No one deserves these horrifying acts of violence. Every life is precious and deserves freedom, justice, respect, love, dignity, and fair treatment." Vulavou says while we carry the memories of transgender people we have lost in our hearts and pray in anguish for their families, we must continue to act every day to put an end to this heinous crime. Ends... For more information, contact PSGDN Communications Analyst Nasik Swami at email@example.com
Other Pages (28)
- Home | Pacific Sexual & Gender Diversity Network | PSGDN | Suva
Welcome to the Pacific Sexual & Gender Diversity Network A safe, supportive and empowering home for Pacific Islanders of Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities & Expressions and Sex Characteristics + Introduction The Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN) is the regional network of LGBTQI organisations and individuals in the Pacific and is currently based in Suva, Fiji. PSGDN membership has continued to increase over the years and now has affiliates in 14 member countries (American Samoa, Cook Islands, Federated States of Microne sia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) and ongoing efforts are being made to establish affiliates in other Pacific Islands, including the US and French territories. Read About Us What We do The PSGDN mission includes advocating for resourced and sustainable LGBTQI community organizations at country level, increased political commitment to SOGIESC, reform of discriminatory laws and government policies, greater sensitivity towards SOGIESC by law enforcement agencies, increased availability of strategic information through research and routine data collection, reduction of institutionalized and social stigma and discrimination, positive engagement with religious institutions, inclusive educational environments and increased representation of Pacific Islands of Diverse SOGIESC at local, national and international levels News See More HIV response crisis in Fiji There is a crisis in HIV response in Fiji. That’s the warning from Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network Chief Executive Officer... Vulavou: Let’s celebrate trans resilience and legacy Let us honour the lives of the many transgender and gender non-conforming people in Fiji and the Pacific who have been taken from us by... It’s time to heal the inner child "Realizing I was queer made me more anxious as it led to a lot of bullying and death threats from both kids and adults alike. I rarely... 1 2 3 4 5 Partnerships Regional Rights and Resources Team (RRRT) Regional Partners Where are we located Contact us First Name Last Name Email Message Submit Thanks for submitting!
- News | PSGDN
News webmaster13878 HIV response crisis in Fiji There is a crisis in HIV response in Fiji. That’s the warning from Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network Chief Executive Officer... webmaster13878 Vulavou: Let’s celebrate trans resilience and legacy Let us honour the lives of the many transgender and gender non-conforming people in Fiji and the Pacific who have been taken from us by... webmaster13878 It’s time to heal the inner child "Realizing I was queer made me more anxious as it led to a lot of bullying and death threats from both kids and adults alike. I rarely... HIV response crisis in Fiji There is a crisis in HIV response in Fiji. That’s the warning from Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network Chief Executive Officer... Vulavou: Let’s celebrate trans resilience and legacy Let us honour the lives of the many transgender and gender non-conforming people in Fiji and the Pacific who have been taken from us by... It’s time to heal the inner child "Realizing I was queer made me more anxious as it led to a lot of bullying and death threats from both kids and adults alike. I rarely... 1 2 3 4 5
- Resources | PSGDN
Resources REGIONAL NEWSLETTER THE QUEERNESIANS All you need to know: Transgender reproductive health Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) has curated this resource for transgender people and communities across the region. Through this resource, we hope to answer frequently asked questions and address unvoiced experiences and anxieties of transgender persons about their bodies, sexuality, pleasure and relationships, and their reproductive health needs, with an aim to empower trans people with knowledge and awareness to fully exercise their bodily rights. DOWNLOAD Look Good, Feel Better: A Trans Masc Guide The two main non-medical ways that some transgender men and trans masculine people use to create a more masculine appearance are binding and packing. Binding is a way to create a flatter chest, while packing creates a bulge in the pants. While not every trans man chooses to use these methods, many find they relieve dysphoria and help them feel confident. DOWNLOAD Use of testosterone! What should I know before I begin? This factsheet is a guide for trans men, trans masculine and gender diverse people who may be thinking about using testosterone. This process of transitioning is called Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT). This factsheet provides a brief overview of the benefits, side effects and risks about starting hormone therapy. This factsheet should not be used to practice self-medication. DOWNLOAD I want to start using hormones! What should I know before I begin? This factsheet is for trans women, trans feminine and gender diverse people who may be thinking about using hormones also known as Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT). This factsheet provides a brief overview of the benefits, side effects and risks about starting hormone therapy. This factsheet should not be used to practice self-medication. DOWNLOAD Being Trans in Asia and the Pacific These resources have been created by the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) for trans people, their families, friends and colleagues. There are some huge gaps in the information available to trans people across Asia and the Pacific. APTN asked its members to share the most common questions they are asked in their country. DOWNLOAD PSGDN Strategic Plan 2019 - 2024 Youth Policy Dialogue Legislative Review of LGBT Rights in Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Marshall Islands Advocacy Video Links PSGDN - Urgent need to uphold LGBTQI rights in the Pacific. CEO Isikeli Vulavou interviewed by Fiji One News on LGBTQI rights in the Pacific.