Fiji’s LGBTIQ community has made history with what local activists say is the country’s very first pride parade.
Local LGBTIQ group Rainbow Pride Foundation organised the event, held on this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBT), on Thursday last week.
The group decided to hold the parade in Fiji’s second biggest city, Lautoka, after police denied multiple requests to hold it in capital city Suva.
Rainbow Pride Foundation executive director Isikeli Vulavou told Gay Star News it was a “breakthrough” to get permission to hold the parade, and said local police even provided an escort for the 50 parade participants.
“Being part of the parade, the participants shared how liberating it was for them to call upon the public to realise that people of sexual and gender minorities exists, and are here to stay,” Vulavou said.
“For another, it was a historic moment, and was glad to be part of a time, when LGBTQI people were finally given a space to freely express themselves, have their voices heard on the streets, and simply being acknowledged for who they are.”
Homosexuality is legal in Fiji, but LGBTIQ people in the country still face discrimination and violence.
In 2012, police revoked their approval for a pride march at the last minute because the force “did not realise that this was a march for gays and lesbians,” Gay Star News reported.
In 2016, Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said all LGBTIQ people in Fiji should move to Iceland and “stay and live there” and said same-sex marriage was “rubbish”.
— TAMANI RARAMA (@Tamani_Rarama) May 19, 2018