NEWS

FOCUS: APOLOGISE! NGO Collective Tell ACS Over Gender Row

Shirley Tagi is a former media personality and works as co-ordinator of civil rights advocacy group Diverse Voices and Action for Equality) Fiji feminist and human rights based civil society
24 Apr 2015 10:15
FOCUS: APOLOGISE! NGO Collective Tell ACS Over Gender Row

Shirley Tagi is a former media personality and works as co-ordinator of civil rights advocacy group Diverse Voices and Action for Equality)

Fiji feminist and human rights based civil society organisations are alarmed at a nationally reported incident (Fiji Sun, 19 April, 2015) where the Adi Cakobau School Principal reportedly instituted “counselling of 10 students” because of “lesbianism among students’, and “sent a boarder home and ordered that the student now be a day scholar.”

Regardless of any particular incident, feminist and human rights based civil society organisations jointly raise that the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, Chapter 2, 26, 3a clearly states that a person must not be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on a number of grounds including “…sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression”.

“In Chapter 2/26/5, it is further elaborated that every person in Fiji has the right of access, membership and admission, without discrimination on a prohibited ground, to (among others), educational institutions.

Urgent reminder

This is also an urgent reminder for the immediate appointment of commissioners to the Fiji Human Rights and Anti Discrimination Commission, being well versed in human rights standards and with demonstrated work in advocating, campaigning and upholding these principles.

We also remind that the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to which Fiji is a longtime signatory, clearly defines discrimination against all women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.

Ministry Policy

We recall that the Ministry of Education, Heritage, and Arts (MoEHA) Policy on Child Protection in Schools that was last reviewed and approved on 21 January 2015 by the Honourable Minister Mahendra Reddy calls upon the Ministry and all schools to “respect their (children) rights, wishes, sexual orientation and feelings.”

According to Section 4.0 of the Policy, verbal bullying also includes “homophobic remarks, name calling, threats.”

We are also reminded that this is a responsibility of all – community and faith leaders, media and all Fijians to uphold these values.

We therefore urgently call for the Government of Fiji, civil servants, educational and school boards, school principals, teachers, PTA committees, teachers unions and students to fully promote, recognise and implement the constitutional rights of all Fiji citizens, including lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, including through the following concrete actions:

1. Full apology to any affected school students and immediate re-instatement of affected students to full past educational status, including as Boarders;

2. Fiji Ministry for Women and the Fiji Ministry for Education to work urgently with all educational institutions and feminist and human rights based civil society on full compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji, as the highest law of the land, and drawn down into all legislation and policies;

3. The Government of Fiji, Parliamentarians, educators and educational institutions to demonstrate maximum commitment to addressing all forms of discrimination in law and in practice and respect for universal human rights including the right to education of all students in Fiji, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, intersex or any other status – and to fully reflect in educational structures, processes, and curriculum.

4. Fiji’s educational curriculum to include comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), and a commitment to highest evidence-based training on such, all Education Ministry staff,

School Boards, Principals, teachers, teachers unions and PTA Councils on SRHR, sexual health and wellbeing.

5. Support for Media campaigns to promote anti-discriminatory practices in particular to highlight why homophobia must end.

Fiji civil society organisations look forward to working closely with educational institutions and the Government of Fiji on these urgent issues, and call for immediate, strongest and cross-ministerial attention to these constitutional issues of universal human rights.

Endorsement

Endorsed, at 23 April 2015, by:

– Citizens Constitutional Forum

– Diverse Voices and Action for Equality

– Drodrolagi Movement

-Fiji Women’s Rights Movement

– Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre

– Fiji Young Women’s Forum

–   femLINK PACIFIC

-Oceania Pride

-Rainbow Pride Foundation

Further endorsements: If you would like to add your organisational and individual endorsements of this statement by latest 30 April 2015, please email: shirleytagi@gmail.com

Feedback: newsroom@fijisun.com.fj

 




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