Attack On Gay Men Condemned
Human rights and gay rights advocate Ashwin Raj last night condemned an alleged attack on two gay men.
The men said yesterday they did not want to be identified because they feared for their lives.
They said they also did not report the incident to the Police for fear of reprisals from the people who allegedly attacked them.
Mr Raj, the director of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, said people should speak out because “silence will mean fear and discrimination will flourish.”
He is also an advocate of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community.
He said: “The fact that our Constitution has based strong provisions on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression as a prohibited ground of discrimination means that we need to ensure that our society is free from discrimination. These communities can live without fear, without reprisal and recrimination because they express a sexual value that is not shared by others.
“So we as a society must strongly condemn these acts of violence because violence begets violence. And we must extend the same kind of human dignity to them that others enjoy and they have the same constitutional rights as everybody else.
“And that everywhere that people see, witness these acts of violence or where they see that instances that their sense of dignity has been diminished, we must stand up and report these matters to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, report these matters to the Police.
“Our silence would mean that fear and discrimination would flourish. We must not only condemn but we must actively act to stand up to these acts of discrimination and violence.
“This would mean that not only the Police, not just the law enforcers, but society needs to be educated about these things.
“This means educating through the school system, community education, community leaders, everybody.
“We need to realise that not all of us are the same and diversity is important. And we must be able to celebrate that diversity.
“People shouldn’t have to apologise and live in fear, because their sexual values are different from heteronormative subjects.
Pluralism is so important. We must celebrate that. We must celebrate this diversity.”
Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said they could not do much if people did not report the matter to Police.
“We would encourage them to come forward and report because that is the best way they could address the issue.”
The two men claimed the attack happened early Sunday morning in Valelevu.
“While we were walking towards the road, two teenage boys approached us, smiling and made some sexually subjective comments towards us,” said one of the men who claimed was attacked.
“We ignored them and continued to flag down a cab and all of a sudden one of them punched my friend.
“They punched my friend really hard and when I was trying to save my friend, the same boy pushed me. I took a tumble and fell. My lips were cut and bleeding,” he said.