International Human Rights Day (2019)

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[00:00:00] This program is brought to you by pride in [00:01:56] welcome to this wonderful evening. You've just actually being welcomed by two phenomena, one of Wellington's hidden treasures. [00:02:11] Thank you, Kevin. And [00:02:14] today is International Human Rights Day. [00:02:21] And and we set this evening with incredible sadness in this country. So I want to take a moment and acknowledge the tragedy that has occurred on white Island. thoughts go to those who have lost loved ones and those who have loved ones and hospital to the emergency service people who sounds like did incredible things yesterday rescuing people. But I also want to think about what's happening in the South Island and weather related events. And what's going on across the Tasman With our family and Australia and the terrible bush was over there and also what's going on and tomorrow with the measles epidemic, so it's an important day today human rights thinking about it. And and the complexity and the intersectional with real life. My name is Manny Bruce Mitchell. I am the current, one of two people who represent Olga Oceania, human rights and LGBT human rights organization [00:03:39] in the Pacific, so it's my [00:03:43] I know say little Cubans asked me to talk about myself. So I'm an intersex person. I'm a non binary person, and I'm a queer person and in the context of tonight with our coming out stories, I came out to my parents 40 years ago Like, lots of the stories of that era, it didn't go well. Both my parents burst into tears. They saw me being a queer person as a tragedy. And I think tonight will experience a little bit of the same of that. And and I think we have some narratives that are quite different in terms of, we're planning to do this now. So I great pleasure to invite mirror to the stage the ambassador for the Netherlands, who is hosting this very, very special function tonight. And please welcome [00:07:41] Welcome all and and really thank you very much first to Kevin and [00:07:47] frost for your beautiful performance and your participation in this event tonight. I'm indeed the Netherlands ambassador to New Zealand. I'm standing here in a very like if I'm going to do something directly Cool, but this has nothing to do with me. But this is that this is in fact like it will be recorded and I stand here but I want you to not feel any distance except of this computer screen. And I would like to think of course money also for the for the introduction, and of course money and given our co host tonight we are hosting we are co hosting this event on this very important topic on the 10th of December international human rights date. And I would like to think also very much also comes to your Fitzsimmons who was so kind today to tell her personal story and share that with you. And I really hope that also there will be some participation from the room later onwards, and Tony duder as well, who is also willing to share a personal story, which is, I think, very crucial for the topic that we discussed today. It's not about about like, technical human rights issues about something that's far away from everyone. No, it's about In fact, like, living in real human beings who struggle in a situation where sometimes like the state is not accepting the rights of, of all people, but it's sometimes also a community. And we will see that later today. Of course, in the documentary documentary, I have the privilege and I just wanted to highlight that before I also say something about human rights. David, I had the privilege to work already with Kevin Amani, around the World Conference in March 2019, which was a huge success, especially also bar your tireless efforts to make an impact and to be really inclusive in in the organization of the conference, especially in facilitating the participation of the of a lot of LGBT. I've participants from Oceania, like from far away like Pacific who have never ever attended international conferences, who had no opportunity to share their stories and their experiences with other activists from all around the world. And I think that that was very specific on this particular conference in Wellington, that that was made possible and that I think, is very important to charities. And I'm very happy that also there will be later on a conference regional conference later this year in Oceania in New Caledonia, and I really would like to call upon and that's what we do also as the Dutch embassy to include as many participants from all around the Pacific to be to be there. The event tonight is, is because marking the International Human Rights Day. I mean, on this day, the the international Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in the General Assembly in New York. This document was a milestone at that time. And it was shortly after World War Two, and promotion and protection of human rights was on everyone's like mind, we really have to do something that this tragedy will never ever happen again. But unfortunately it remains as relevant [00:11:23] as in 19 1948, as in not in not into 2019. Actually, without a declaration, we will not been able to hold countries accountable in the responsibility and a commitment to protect human rights. It triggered many binding treaties and but put the human being Central and not the state. Unfortunately, so signs of disrespect of human rights are proliferating and there's still a great need to rely forces in defense of them. Next year, the United Nations will celebrate its 75th anniversary and it will launch A good number of debates, but one also a global conversation about the role of the global cooperation in building the future that we want. And I would really encourage everyone to really think about is we are all here and very crucial moment. And I think, of course, Manny also highlighted some of the current day tragedies, but also in many other countries in the world, there is still a hunger War series human rights violations, and we all we can be part of also building a better future in that respect. This was also one of the reasons that the Dutch embassy hosted an event earlier this year, which was focusing on the future of human rights, a debate which is currently I think, a big topic also in my own country, like how can we make it more alive? How can we bring human rights back into the conversation again, and not in a discussion that that people try to undermine it and undermined irrelevance and however, it takes more than a day corporation to ensure that the world in which human rights are the human rights are respected. And that's also reason why the Netherlands is actively together with a number of nations and I'm very happy that they've seen my friends also have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand here. And we work a lot together with like minded nations like New Zealand to improve human rights treaties to make to ensure that we have special mechanisms such as the UN Special Envoy who's dealing with the discrimination and violence against LGBT community or unhealthy or discrimination on the basis of gender identity. And these kinds of mechanisms are really important to highlight what is happening what but human beings everywhere around the world experience in this countries also are have to respond to questions of other nations to what is happening that reports will be written about the situation and discussed also in the United Nations. Again, this is not tonight about the an abstract matter. The film highlights real people and the serious challenges and the social inclusion LGBTI plus rainbow people still face in today's world, in many countries. The documentary you will also see later tonight there's also the story of three families living in three different countries and the dilemmas and the challenges they face with the coming out of their son or daughter. They discuss how they found out and they share their feelings or of shock sometimes not understanding what is going on fear but also worry about their children, about maybe safety and maybe discrimination that they will face but also about the community that come from under religion. Although the situation of many of LGBTI rainbow are much better in countries like New Zealand, and the Netherlands, there's still a number of issues in countries like my own. discrimination and violence remain a great concern. And many of our young people and young adults face social exclusion, and bullying, which often leads to depression, self harm, or even suicide. Three years ago, I lost a very dear friend and colleague. He had a nice job, many friends, but he felt extremely lonely by having parents who were not able to accept him. On his burial, nobody talked about, about his sexual orientation which was so crucial of his own person. I think that this is something a struggle that we own. And there are many stories to be told in this respect, that we still have to work on together to start the dialogue, because it's not easy. [00:16:16] But we can make a difference. And this is I think, also where this documentary is all about. It's not easy. A lot of people will not always say things that you might like, but are also real people. And we need to start conversation and make lives of people and better, safer and promote social acceptance and well being of everyone. I really hope that that will incorporate that that movie actually really encouraged to this debate. And and look forward to also of course, the stories of controvert Fitzsimmons and Tony and And I wish you a very inspiring evening. And I also would like to highlight that we have maybe you have seen them already to blue Delta, Delta blue kissing boys or girls you can you can just figure out what what it is it's a bit nondescript property. But what is for us very important is that we, I think that some of you have seen them already. They were at the conference, they were also at my kings day reception. And what I really would like to ask you is that to make a picture and to make a photo and share it and on social media, also with the sign that you promote equal human rights of all. With this message, I would like to conclude and wish you a very inspiring evening. [00:17:51] Kill the data to the a member here to care, queer and besler just Thanks to the ambassador for opening this event today. And it's going to be an event which is we're going to encourage you to keep some of the thoughts that the ambassador's mentioned. Because we're also going to have a bit of a talk as a embezzlers alluded to with some of our guests that we've invited along today. But again, I want to add to the Welcome to that man he has extended also a welcome from myself to to all the people that he I've got my my short range glasses on so I can't see anybody. [00:18:39] But you're very welcome. Thank you for coming. [00:18:44] The format really is. [00:18:48] And I'll invite Councillor flee the summons to come and take a seat, please. Councillor Simmons as a Wellington's counselor for the pike, our our southern mood of the city, a role she has held since 2017. The flow has a background in the student and union movements as a leader, lawyer and activists. So we're really, really pleased that she's able, as a public figure to participate in this event. Now the the way that this is going to work is essentially we're going to ask a couple of questions that might prompt some responses in terms of appearance experience, to coming up and so the first question is, really, what's new coming out experience for you, as I should have checked that festival? Well, [00:19:43] just before [00:19:44] I start, I just wanted to really acknowledge Manny and Kevin and middle Warburg the ambassador from the Netherlands for [00:19:55] putting on this event because human rights is many of the people here We'll know a very delicate phones, they're not granted by states, they are won by people. And they're kept alive by people in its events like this all around the world, which actually keep human rights alive and which are very, very important. So thank you for putting on the event. But also thank you everyone for coming. Because even just by being here, you're involved in exercising in defending human rights, and it's a very noble thing to be involved in doing. And so yeah, thank you so much for coming tonight and for putting on this event. And I also just wanted to start so I've got a transgender son, he is age eight must get that right. Eight and a half, eight and a half as a lie. And it's interesting you asked the question about was the are coming out because a lie when he was about three would say I bought I a boy so he actually knew he was a boy before he knew the correct grammar [00:21:06] and, and to be honest way, [00:21:10] way just initially has his father and I just initially thought that he just idolizes his big brother's death and he wants to be a boy like sick. He's a tomboy. He just doesn't want me to always be crushing us here bashing the not throw because that's horrible. We made all sorts of excuses. But we, when we took a lie to hit his hair cut short for the first time and stop dressing him and ridiculous girls skirts and clothes that were particularly gendered. We noticed a massive shift and him as a child in a real new comfort and this probably is not news to lots of people in this room, but just a new comfort and confidence even as a three year old and it's been ever since been really just a lovely journey of A child, you know, growing up and developing and the ways that I've also experienced with with our other three children. So yeah, it's some quite gentle and pleasant coming out experience. I think [00:22:18] this is one of those report type of questions that I copied from on the show. If you could return to the time when your child declared who they were, what would you say to yourself, based on your experience? [00:22:35] Don't grieve that you're losing a child because that's kind of how we felt and I feel a little bit ashamed of that. But we did genuinely feel like we've had a daughter and she had a name, which was a favorite name of mine for many, many years that I've been saving up to give a daughter. And then we didn't end with we did feel a sense of grief in a genuinely Feel comfortable that was our emotion. But it was and and we've quickly moved on in we no longer feel that sense of grief at all in fact, this very time last year I was a new town hospital having our fourth child so it's a lot more pleasant to be here. They begin to say [00:23:21] that the lovely thing about when I hit Kate is that our whole family were like well, she's a girl now but her no [00:23:34] actually the midwives were quite surprised by but it was I thought it was quite a lovely lovely journey for a family who we don't assume gender roles now in our two year old Rosa has started saying i think i a boy [00:23:47] I think I am boy and which [00:23:49] is very very excited by very came to encourage but um, yeah, so I think it's it's changed our whole family's notion of Jean de and the yeah attitudes, attitudes to [00:24:00] Did you did you have any fears? [00:24:04] we've we've had, like, like many people in this room or know a number of things that we've come across that are issues to be dealt with. For example, swimming at school is something that has been a concern and a worry and his cool some anxiety jinda toilets at school but also a real issue at the beginning and running and the cross country because the school for some unknown reason divided the cross country and two boys and girls. But actually what we have found is that there is a community of transgender parents within the alibi School, which is where the light goes, and other parents have we've taken the lead on some things and I've taken the lead on other things. So for a live cross country and sport is very important. So we talked to the teachers about that and it was remarkably easy to get bit changed and I think the reason for that is because the of the work of many people in this room, including Manny, and in many others across the world that has made a situation where I, as a parent, go to the school and say, my child's not that comfortable with this boys and girls cross country thing. Can we address this? And the teachers like, Oh, he's absolutely right. It's ridiculous. And that is because of the work over years and years and years of activism in campaigns. And, you know, that, that the movement has made it easier for me as a parent in bObi for my child, and, you know, for more children in the future, and I think it's very exciting. [00:25:39] So pretty tough question next, with the with this. And I'll just call it coming up process, whatever. It should be called. I'm not too sure. But with this process, what would your message be to parents or rainbow people who live in repressive communities? What would what message should our government are willing City scene [00:26:02] to those people. [00:26:04] Well, I mean, I think probably everyone in this room would have a very good answer on that question. I don't pretend to be an expert on that. But I know from my own activism in work in the student movement in the women's movement, that you have to expect more, and you have to expect visa, and if you don't get it, you have to demand it. And you have to keep going until you do, he says, and if it's easier for you to do this in a group or on behalf of others, or you know, no way watches lists intimidating and take steps step by step thing, you know, that's the way to do it. And we, we have, we are concerned about a life suffering from bullying at school and so far the baseline that we've come up with which works at eight but won't work at 18 as this as people tease at Lie a lie, we'll save it to them. You want to be careful, Eastern, a lot like Donald Trump and you do not want to. [00:27:07] And children No, universally an alibi school anyway, that Donald Trump is bad. And so so far that's works, but I, you know, I appreciate that it won't work. Yeah, but [00:27:21] and actually I'm working with money on a project which the government set up to reduce the barriers to changing your register ticks on blue certificates in money and I both on that group in the lovely thing about talking about that group to Eli, as they I've said to him, because he kind of can know and understand that that just under his see that this group, and this is what it's going to be about. And every time we go, we have a meeting, I come home and tell him about it. And he just his a renewed sense of energy and excitement and happiness. And I just think, you know that that that's so important and the rewards are so meaningful, and I know that each of you will Head experiences like those when you have, you know, achieve change. [00:28:07] Thank you so much. Symbolically, I have Ruth and Doug sitting here listening as well. My mom would struggle, but I think you've given something that my dad would take away and digest and think about and he'd be pragmatic and go, you know, we can do this, like this might not be easy. And I think it's a beautiful gift that you give to all of us but and an inspirational message to parents that this was possible. And the end the story, I'm sure there'll be people sitting here listening, kind of crying inside just imagining what it would be like to have parents who can see you as a three year old and honor what is in front of you. So thank you. Thank you so much. [00:29:05] The other thing I wanted to talk about was coming out is a is an experience, which is not just about sexual orientation, which is the examples that we've seen tonight in the documentary. But it's also the agenda. You know, how you identify how you express yourself, but also about and to six. And within a range, there are a whole, you know, number of other ways that might be particular experiences in terms of coming out. And so, I do want you to think about that, for the conclusion of this evening, because we would like you to, and we haven't figured it out yet, get some feedback from you, both as an audience and later when we have food and drink after this to be here. But for this particular moment, I'd like to introduce you to Tony dooda a tiny data is a Tony is a lesbian, taka taka activist who has who has worked on the rainbow community since 2013 as the two IC and Communications Manager at rainbow youth, and she recently moved from Auckland to Wellington. And straightaway, we snapped up to say, Would you like to participate in this event? And so the what we're looking at now is really just to get a perspective from a youth and terms of something that they they might be able to pass on in terms of this debate tonight and so similar questions, just a slight, slight, different direction. So in terms of the coming out experience for you, and I'm, I'm thinking Did you have one, and for you and your parents, how was it head, head of the Feel what was it like for you? [00:31:02] To go to Qatar? core Tony talking Where? [00:31:07] i? Yeah, good question. [00:31:12] I guess for me, it's really odd because I feel like my I never I never actually came out and never actually said the words I've never actually come out which is hilarious that I'm sitting here today. I got a one to Father Father training and unlike anything you need given anything to find it from the needs of doing he's like well, [00:31:35] but [00:31:36] I guess so. I come from a really small town in north and I'm very far from Hong Kong duyvil. So kumada capital of, of the country. We back way back kumud a vodka, just FYI. It's disgusting. But yeah, and so I grew up in a really white middle class, rural upbringing. And it wasn't until I and I didn't have any clue what's game is being little on trans and to six non binary any of that was and so, but I knew I knew I was different. And so and i big I begged my mom to not send me to the, to the local high school and I sort of said to her, like, I don't think I would survive there. But I didn't really know what I mean by that. Well, I know it was that I just, I mean, something really quite drastic. And she kind of got the message without even knowing what I was what I actually means, and managed to convince my dad who was the one with the to, I was very lucky to be able to be sent to boarding school in Auckland, and it was an Auckland and that I sort of realized that I had attraction to people of my own gender and I pursued that. And, unfortunately, yeah, we were my girlfriend at the time we were her parents actually went to the boarding school of director and told them that I was corrupting their daughter and that I was actually sexually assaulting her. [00:33:18] And [00:33:20] yeah, that was. So I got called into the office and and so that when you walked into the boarding school after school, there was a notice board and it had used to get your name written up there. Sorry, I'm taking for ages and you see your name written up there. And if you were going to get a parcel and so my name was up there and I was like, Oh my God, my mom sent my vanilla coke like, yeah, I'm so excited because you know, and anyway, I get I get close to the board and says, Can you see? so and so? And in the office, and so, I went in there and she sat down, I sat down and she just said to me, okay, so you're you're a lesbian. I've called your mother. And she coming down tomorrow for meeting with me and the principal and your dean. And I didn't even know that I wasn't leaving at that point. And, yeah, and then I don't actually remember the meeting, but my mom does. And she just said that it was a whole lot of women sitting in front of me and saying, We've never had this and 70 years of this and debating with her to expel me and my mom, my mom was scared to drive on the motorway, let alone confront someone like you know, so she just sat there. Like I use this formally country bumpkin, just being like, I don't know what to say to these people. And eventually they decided not to kick me out which thanks. But they decided to separate me from the rest of the girls and my year so I was given a really nice room actually in the boarding school, it was the prefix room and so it had a door that locked and it had a head like all over because we only had co And outdoor I was 14 or 15. And it means that I got you know, all the perks of being a prefix but I was just the least be and so [00:35:09] that was pretty awesome to be honest. That's my story. And my mom told me run out of my family. Yeah. [00:35:17] And now that your memory, [00:35:19] my mom was terrified for me. And she said, and my parents had split up when I was two and a half so heard my dad never had a good relationship, but she knew that she had to tell him because he was very emotionally stunted. I mean, he's from He's like, this white middle class dude from a rural town, that should say, but my mom said to me, once she got over the shock and once she asked me, if I was worried that I've been wouldn't find me attractive, which I was like, I don't want them to the goal. She said, you're going to meet the most amazing people. She was without drag queens which Yes, they're amazing. They're amazing. But um, but actually having worked in the community and having traveled and represented my work but also just my communities. She was writing I think every single day for saying that because I liked and I think you know, my communities and thank you guys for giving me that opportunity. That's it I'll stop rambling. [00:36:21] I just want to know here that you know that we were fabulous people [00:36:26] based on the drag queen should have made apparently. [00:36:35] I guess it's a bit of a tricky question. And you know, that report question but you know, if you went back to that time, yeah. [00:36:41] Do you think you How would you What would you say to yourself and give you advice to yourself big thing, [00:36:49] I would say to not worry about being a normal gay person, to to focus on being an activist because actually you are very privileged and what you and your community and there are People who who aren't and you need to realize that real quick and and Scott through the movie and for for them and I would say don't be scared and that was the biggest thing and still is the biggest thing about going home and talking to my family is not that I'm a lesbian but that I'm an out lesbian who goes on the news well used to go on the news as part of my role and like was a professional gay person unashamedly speaking about it. And not only that, but speaking about other things speaking about being maadi speaking about being being an ally to trans people and non binary people in six people. That's all very uncomfortable. So not being a good guy, you know, that that's what I would say to myself. And also that the word is probably [00:37:55] say, [00:37:56] let's think about it. So what would you say to that? [00:38:01] sitting out in rural New Zealand now [00:38:04] isn't the parents who the equipment's? [00:38:10] kirika and I think, [00:38:15] yeah, just do whatever you can and what makes you feel good and try to remember that every coming out is different. And it's okay to take it slow. And you know, I think out on you know, if you can find a safe online space go there because that's what, that's what helped me as well. You know, I wrote a lot of fanfiction and found my people. So yeah, that's what I would say the support groups. Yes, there are support groups out there. Yeah. So do you want me to? Yes. Okay. So what do we have we have inside out we have rainbow youth. We have outline, we have itins from God, I've taken my rambling we've had our father do this. Going to fund a fund as well. Yeah. So there's so much out there and you can go online [00:39:05] would have if appearance do. [00:39:07] Yeah. And the biggest thing I would say to parents is don't be scared cuz we're not probably not. Okay. Don't be scared to fuck up because your, your, your your your fear clogs you up and your silence says I don't accept you just start be scared to just just all we have to do is love your kid I think and just just support them with whatever they want. I think it's as simple as that. I think we keep trying to overcomplicate it, but actually, that's what it comes down to. [00:39:39] So what I think you've just given the message to the third question which I had, which is really, you know, what would your message be to people who live in repressive communities? Don't be scared. [00:39:50] Well, it's really interesting because having traveled and had the privilege to be an international sittings, hearing people who aren't from who from places like Russia and Kenya and Indonesia? Actually, I don't have a lot to say to them, except what can what can we do to help you? And what and I would say to the government's like New Zealand government. You know, it's important that you connect with the local activists in those areas who are doing the work and find out what's what's going to help them, what's not going to endanger them, what's not going to sit back the work that they're already doing. It's listening to the people on the ground in those countries because they have the answers. And yeah, that's what I would say. [00:40:30] And Tony, thank you, thank you for what what you have shared for bringing a little bit of your story to tonight. I think it's alongside and beautifully what what we've heard from the others. Thank you, Tony.

This page features computer generated text of the source audio - it is not a transcript. The Artificial Intelligence Text is provided to help users when searching for keywords or phrases. The text has not been manually checked for accuracy against the original audio and will contain many errors.