Trans Rights Are Human Rights - International Human Rights Day 2018 (10 Dec)
Today the World celebrates Human Rights Day and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) in Fiji also hope that they have the right to be whoever they want to be without being discriminated.
The LGBT family in Fiji believes that despite being protected under Bill of Rights in the 2013 Constitution the reality is different. Pacific Project Coordinator - Asia Pacific Transgender Network Sulique Waqa said at the end of the day LGBT families are part and parcel of the Fijian community.
“The Government is not doing enough despite Fiji's constitutional protection for LGBT people under the Bill of Rights in the 2013 Constitution; the reality for most LGBT people is, most LGBT people are still experiencing a lot of violence, discrimination, attack, and abuse on a daily basis. Sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Fiji Constitution must also address the systemic barriers that prevent the fulfillment and realization of the rights of LGBT people,” Ms Waqa said.
“This must also extend to address the inconsistencies of the laws, policies, and institutions as it relates to the interpretation and application of these constitutional provisions. For example in Oct 2015, a High Court Judge in Fiji ruled against the application of a transgender woman to have her preferred gender identity legally recognized in her Fiji passport.
“The Judge ruled that "It is thus clear that by a male-to-female transsexual surgery all what the doctors can do is to artificially create certain female organ in a male’s body but that person does not become a female for all intents and purposes.” The Asia Pacific Transgender Network is currently working with our country partner in Fiji the Haus of Khameleon through a National Consultant and LGR Expert to draft the first ever country report in Fiji on the policy and legal review on legal gender recognition and present its recommendations at the national stakeholders dialogue in 2019.”
Ms Waqa said they need the Government to ensure them that their Human Rights are protected and not violated.
“In June 2016, the Human Rights Council voted to establish the first-ever United Nations (U.N.) Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The term of the UN Independent Expert on SOGI will come to an end in July 2019, and we are hoping that the Fiji Government as a new member of the Human Rights Council will vote to renew the term of the IE SOGI,” she said.
“The last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submission in 2014, the Fiji Government agreed and accepted recommendations from the government of Chile and Germany on the protection of LGBT Rights in Fiji as well as agreed to engage with the LGBT community during the last CEDAW Committee review. We are preparing to make submissions for the next UPR reporting of Fiji as an LGBT movement to present what progress Fiji has made towards the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of LGBT rights in Fiji, as well as to address some of the underlying gaps, concerns and make recommendations.
“Recently, there was the setting up of an LGBT Committee after the convening of the first ever National LGBT Human Rights Dialogue this year that will look at developing a national plan of action on advancing the human rights of LGBT people, this will also provide opportunity to engage with government and multi-stakeholders to be able to better coordinate with the LGBT activists and organizations.”