IDAHOT: Celebrate Family Diversity

17 May, 2017

All families should be recognised, respected and protected.

In commemorating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), the NGO Coalition on Human Rights calls for the recognition of all families in their diversities, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

IDAHOT is observed every year on May 17, to raise awareness and call for the protection of LGBTQI rights.

“We welcome this year’s theme Love Makes a Family and recognise the importance of families, in supporting members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex community,” said FWRM Executive Director, Nalini Singh.

The 2013 Constitution prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression, but there are still problematic provisions that are barriers to their full recognition and protection.

By traditional standards, the family make-up is expected to have an authoritative figure as the head, usually the father, with his wife and children. Existing legal structures continue to capture this, as do societal perceptions, disregarding the needs of non-traditional and diverse families. Abuse and violence can also occur within the family and this is further exacerbated for members of the LGBTQI community.

“Same sex couples and parents are not recognised. Even within the Family Law Act 2005, "de facto relationship" is interpreted as a relationship between a man and a woman who live with each other as spouses on a genuine domestic basis although not legally married to each other,” said Singh.

Families existing outside of the norm are marginalised, overlooked and stigmatised.

Singh said, these traditional ideologies filter into family life and can help reinforce existing homophobia and discriminatory behaviour.

“The family unit is an essential part of our lives, for many of us, whether we grew up with them, biologically related or not, it is an important emotional relationship. Unfortunately for some who are perceived to be ‘different’, particularly the LGBTQI community, it’s within the family they can face their first experiences of rejection and stigma,” said Singh.

“However, there are many examples of positive and accepting families who celebrate their diversity and differences. Family represents a place of love and belonging for many people and it should be the same for everyone in spite all our differences,” said Singh.

“A lot remains to be done to promote a culture of equality, respect, inclusiveness and diversity encompassing all Fijians and we stand in solidarity with LGBTQI people in Fiji and around the world as they commemorate this occasion,” said Singh.

ENDS.