Project Date: May 2018 – April 2019
Grant Value: Type A – FJ $52, 056.00
Area of Focus: 2nd Pacific Human Rights Conference
Project Status: COMPLETED
About the Project
While the Pacific presents a rich diversity and cultural heritage, there are many human rights challenges facing LGBTQI persons in the region, including colonial laws which criminalise consensual same-sex conduct, other laws (eg on public decency) which target people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, levels of sexual and gender-based violence, and corresponding lack of access to employment, housing, health care and other economic, social and cultural rights. In addition, there are significant barriers to civil society organising, due to distance and cost of travel between the Pacific Islands, despite the commonalities. As a result, Pacific activists often find themselves minority representatives at conferences hosted in other regions.
Despite these challenges, the region also affords significant opportunities. Many of the laws are not enforced, and States have expressed openness to dialogue. States including Nauru and Palau committed to decriminalizing same-sex conduct during their UPR, and Nauru and Palau recently decriminalised in accordance with its international commitments and following concerted civil society advocacy. Human rights advocates from the region have engaged proactively in processes such as the ICPD Review. A joint statement, which called for an end to criminal sanctions, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, was delivered at the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 on behalf of 85 States, and was endorsed by Fiji, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
A grant from the Fiji Women’s Fund allowed PSGDN convene the second Pacific Human Rights Conference in Fiji. The event presented a safe space for NGOs and human rights defenders working on these issues to take stock of needs, identify advocacy priorities, strengthen capacity to engage with regional mechanisms like the Forum Leaders Pacific regionalism projects and other regional policy forums that will ensure that civil society perspectives continue to be reflected in Forum policy formulation and are able to be conveyed to future Forum Leader’s meetings. In addition, the conference looked to strengthen the capacity of LGBTQI-led CSOs engage in international human rights mechanisms and to discuss organising models that would help foster collaborative partnerships across the region.
PSGDN is the regional network of LGBTQI organisations and individuals in the Pacific and is currently based within the Pacific Community RRRT Office in Suva Fiji. It has members from 14 different PICs. The PSGDN mission includes advocating for resourced and sustainable LGBTI 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 SOGIESC at local, national and international levels.