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Fiji Women's Rights Movement: Protect LGBTQI+ Rights - Stop The Violence, Stop The Hate Crimes!

On May 17th every year, we mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) and help to raise awareness on human rights violations and discrimination faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community worldwide.

FWRM, in solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community and our partners that work on the issues faced by this minority group, calls for the protection of LGBTQI+ rights and the safety of LGBTQI+ people.

On the same note, FWRM wants to highlight the lack of urgency in the investigation of the recent death of Esther Ravato, a member of the LGBTQI+ community who according to media reports, was allegedly tortured and murdered after being taken from outside her home.

"This is the kind of society we live in. The hatred against LGBTQI+ people is so deeply entrenched that they are being violated, they are being killed just for being different. You only have to look at research, comments on social media and remarks made even in our very own homes and communities to understand how the lives of the members of this community are continuously at risk," said FWRM Executive Director, Nalini Singh.

"We need to keep advocating for a culture of respect and inclusiveness and violence against marginalised communities including LGBTQI+ is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated by police and other relevant authorities to ensure justice for everyone,”Ms. Singh added.

In the (DIVA) for Equality Fiji 2018 research report titled, Unjust, Unequal, Unstoppable: Fiji Lesbians, Bisexual women, Transmen and Gender Non-Conforming People tipping the scales toward justice, it was found that 84 per cent of LBT women and gender non-conforming people (GNCP) have experienced physical intimate partner violence. Over half of the LBT women and GNCP surveyed have been verbally abused due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. The study also found that 44 per cent of the survey respondents had experienced sexual assault said they would never tell anyone except close friends due to the high degree of distrust of the wider Fiji society.

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Despite the highest law of the land, the Fiji Constitution prohibiting discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, even then, violence and stigma faced by the LGBTQI community is disturbingly prevalent. What more must the State do to ensure the safety and security of our most vulnerable? Surely, we can as a country come together and protect the most fundamental human rights of our people.

FWRM reiterates the urgency to put more effort into addressing hate crimes and human rights violations against the LGBTQI community and promoting a human-rights based approach in challenging mindsets that exacerbates violence against marginalised groups. FWRM will always be in support of our LGBTIQ sister organisations in their struggles as well as today as we commemorate IDAHOBIT.

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