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Τhe Pacific offers a challenging context in a sensitive political and social environment for LGBT+ people: it is home to an incredible diversity of expressions and representations of gender and sexual identities that continue to draw discrimination, persecution and violence due to the imposition of colonial-era norms and laws on the local cultures and societies.

At Kaleidoscope Trust, we deliver on our promise to actively challenge colonial-era approaches, not only to support positive change but to ensure that that change is guided by and for diverse communities that may use different languages, perspectives and tools to define their lives and their futures.

Activists and human rights organisations across the Pacific are fighting hard to restore to the diverse LGBT+ people and communities the cultural acceptance and legal protections afforded to other citizens. Very often this is approached through an intersectional lens that allows to shift focus from a specific topic or a targeted population to wider considerations around equality and non-discrimination.

Inspired by the LGBT+ movements in Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu – and together with Pacific member organisations of The Commonwealth Equality Network Rainbow Pride Foundation in Fiji, Boutokaan Inaomataia ao Mauriia Binabinaine Association (BIMBA) in Kiribati, Tonga Leitis Association (TLA) in Tonga, and VPride Foundation in Vanuatu – we have launched a ten-month programme funded by the Australian Government’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), a longstanding supporter of Kaleidoscope Trust’s work. This support stems from Australia’s continuing commitment to advancing human rights in the Indo-Pacific region as outlined in its Foreign Policy White Paper.

The programme draws on intersectionality to address inequality and discrimination experienced by persons with diverse identities including by enhancing the visibility and inclusion of LGBT+ issues within government and civil society spaces in the Commonwealth Pacific.

Some of the work that is being supported under the programme includes consultations with Fijian government on climate change and designing disaster risk reduction mechanisms that take into consideration the experiences of LGBT+ persons. In Vanuatu, VPride Foundation is supported to advise the government on LGBT+ rights responsive policy designing and implementation. The programme supports BIMBA’s collaboration with various local justice movements to design intersectional and collaborative strategies for better advancement of human rights in Kiribati. Tongan partner organisation is advocating to amend existing discriminatory laws, including the Criminal Offences Act and the Family Protection Act.

Currently, partner organisations in all focus countries are undergoing training in intersectionality to better understand and inform their engagement with government officials and other social movements.

Cruella Tuinukuafe, the TLA Program Coordinator, had this to say about the intersectionality training that took place in Tonga on 8 October:

“This training has helped us realise the importance of consulting other organisations and government agencies to use intersectionality on assessing what are the gaps in their approach and work in human rights and how to expand and their efforts for inclusiveness of diverse and minority groups in Tonga as a whole.

Malo, the Kaleidoscope trust team for supporting TLA and the stakeholders that participated in the training!”

In a 2015 report by Kaleidoscope Trust, Collaboration and Consensus: Building a Constructive Commonwealth Approach to LGBT Rights, intersectionality was a recommended approach and Kaleidoscope Trust seeks to utilise the activities and lessons learned from the completion of the project to not only build on the work that is accomplished in the Pacific Region, but also to apply it to other Commonwealth countries and regions.

Kaleidoscope Trust is honoured to support these passionate and determined activists which build greatly on The Commonwealth Equality Network´s continued work on the advancement of equality and human rights for all people in the Commonwealth, regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.

This work in the Pacific is possible thanks to funding from the Australian Government