|Posted on 4 May, 2014 at 17:15|
We, Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality, are a group of active and committed lesbians, bisexuals and transmen (LBT) including young LBT from around the Central and Eastern division of Fiji, who have gathered in Suva, Fiji to discuss issues of gender equality, human rights, elections and democracies.
Therefore, in recognition of the Government of Fiji as primary duty bearer for our human rights as LBT women, the existing recognition of our human rights under the current Fiji Constitution, and in order to realise our inherent human rights, including the right to life and to sustainable development, freedom from violence and torture, and to all our civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, strongly call for the following:
1. The promotion of substantive equality in Fiji that protects the rights of all lesbian, bisexual and trans* people (LBT), including the right to sexual and reproductive health and rights, recognition of all rights linked to sexual orientation and gender identities and expressions, without fear or discrimination;
2. Recognition and utilisation of internationally recognised Yogyakarta principles, in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international and regional gender equality normative frameworks including the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, Moana Declaration, Beijing Platform for Action and Reviews, CEDAW, ICPD and POAs, etc, in order to uphold and sustain the rights to bodily integrity and freedom of LBT women of Fiji;
3. We call for a demonstration of accountability and transparency by all duty holders including the Fiji Government, Security forces, Fiji Police Force, political parties, NGOs, other civil society and the wider community, for an inclusivity of all sexual orientations whilst addressing gender equality and human rights, and to recognise that lesbian, bisexual and trans* rights are women's rights and human rights, and these rights need to be fulfilled.
4. Freedom from all forms of violence, torture, discrimination and neglect of LBT women and all people of Fiji, and for safe counselling services and professionalism in schools, work places and organisations;
5. Implementation of legal standards through legislation and policies that comply to international human rights standards and universal, comprehensive, integrated and quality access to medical, health and education services, food, water and adequate land and housing;
6. Commitment to the review of the Fiji education system with particular emphasis on girl child and young LBT women. Diverse Voices and Action for Equality calls for affirmative action programs directed at the enhancement of young LBT women’s formal and informal education, and other development opportunities;
7. Elimination of all forms of civil and political, social, economic and cultural discrimination directed at LBT women including in the homes, workforce, sports and recreation, and demand fair treatment, equality and representation in public and private sectors. CEDAW means the convention on the elimination of ALL forms of discrimination against women, which includes LBT women;
8. To recognise our rights as LBT women to sustainable development, which is not possible without the equal participation of LBT women in democracy, elections and voting, among all other rights. As young LBT women of all ages, including young women advocates, we further pledge to continue to work with each other, and state and non-state allies, to:
9. Build strong, supportive and adequately resourced LBT and other SOGIE groups including Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, to carry forward our work for gender equality, sexual rights, and for universal human rights in Fiji, and in the Pacific. We cannot take forward this work without resources. LBT women will self-organise for positive change in Fiji, with support of allies, as there must be no human rights and development work that takes place without our direct and informed input, and our free, prior and informed consent. ‘Nothing about us, without us’ is our constant call.
10. We will focus on self-care, wellbeing and mental health, as issues of great importance to LBT women and others from marginalised and discriminated groups in our society. This requires work on systems of mental health, and also public education campaigns, training and awareness workshops, and more. When self-esteem is damaged by others, information and communications must also be part of the human rights and social justice response.
11. We highlight the importance of the role of the media, in a just and sustainable democracy. We call on media and political leaders to commit to the principle of free media, with a strong emphasis on human rights, social justice, balanced reporting and responsible journalism.
12. Schools and other educational institutions in Fiji are powerful social and cultural institutions in constructing gender identity, as they have a major influence on how children and young people view each other, and on their acceptance and enjoyment of diversity. On the issues of informal and formal education and right to decent work, DIVA will prioritise rights-based and sustainable development programmes that recognise that bodily freedom, health and wellbeing, safe spaces, and non-discrimination are essential to all advances in education and employment for young LBT women. This includes content on comprehensive sexuality education, SRHR, human rights and sustainable development. We demand the promotion of high-quality gender identity and relations teaching and learning, at all educational levels, including early years settings.
13. On the right to decent work, we reaffirm that the International Labor Organization (ILO) identifies four aspects of decent work: creating jobs, guaranteeing rights at work, social protection, and social dialogue, with gender equality as a cross-cutting objective. Lack of access to recognised national qualifications, decent work and living wage undermines lesbian, bisexual and trans* people’s rights, perpetuates gender inequalities in societies and dampens the prospects for sustainable development and inclusive rights-based economic progress.
14. We call for young LBT women to be supported to pursue education and employment in male-dominated fields. This includes attention to workplace safety for women entering such fields. The State must commit to the advancement of LBT young women in self-employment initiatives and small businesses, by providing necessary support and services including financial assistance, training and development, and access to markets regardless of young women’s age, ethnicity, status, location, social standing, and other variables.
15. In closing, we especially recognise that lesbian women, trans people and those LGBTQI with non-conforming gender identity and gender expression face even greater, intersectional forms of violence, marginalisation and discrimination. We call for an immediate end to all violence and torture of LGBTQI people around the world including the Pacific, and including implementation of enabling legislation, policies and practices in Fiji.
We stand in solidarity with all LGBTQI people.
We are not free till all are free!
All women, all people, all rights!
Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, 30 April, 2014, Suva, Fiji.
*This workshop was kindly supported by Global Fund for Women, and local supporters and allies. Special thanks to FWRM, CCF.