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Improvements slow and patchy in Asia/Pacific

Thu 17 Mar 2011 In: Out Games News View at Wayback View at NDHA

11.55AM: A yearning to be able to be their glbt selves without being denigrated by laws and government agencies was a theme running through today's opening session of the Out Games Human Rights Conference in Wellington, which started yesterday.   Perspectives on generally slow and patchy progress towards equality for glbt people were presented by Aboriginal lesbian Annette Xiberras, Samoan faafafine Viatola Toelupe and Indian lesbian Geetanjali Misra.   Annette Xiberras Xiberras painted a disturbing picture of limited progress for Aboriginal lesbians in Australia since the 1970s when the children of Aboriginal lesbians were taken from them by state government agencies which considered that the children were in moral danger. As an out lesbian working in social services she gave numerous examples of ways in which Aboriginal men, including gays, excluded and discriminated against their lesbian 'sisters', and even worse examples of her own treatment at the hands of white male colleagues.   She says the Aboriginal principle of "respecting each others' lives and values" had been largely lost due to European colonisation, and that the improvements in the lives of some glbt people had hardly filtered down to benefit others   Viatola Toelupe Toelupe acknowledged that Faafafine have a respected and even "privileged" place in traditional Samoan culture and society, but that there is little ability to form lasting or deep relationships. She said faafafine traditionally have sex with straight men who are not looking for on-going relationships and that non-faafafine gay men have very limited visibility or opportunities to publicly enter into relationships.   She said funding for initiatives to assist non-straight people was almost non-existent in Samoa but that fafaafine at least are slowly finding ways "to take things beyond glbt, and to fight misinformation, abuse, fear and loneliness."   Geetanjali Misra Misra eloquently compressed twenty years of glbt progress in India into 20 minutes. She noted that the appearance of HIV amongst gay men had forced the issue of homosexuality out into the open, but had for a time "medicalised" it. The subsequent highly publicised marriage of two lesbian policewomen from a small town had created more public discussion and broke down the attitude that homosexuality was only something that urbanised, westernised Indians did.   A highly popular move, Fire, about two women finding their love for each other furthered the cause of glbt rights and, to the disgust of religious conservatives, broke the once impregnable religious and political view that the only proper Indian woman was "pure, chaste and heterosexual." Misra says Indian glbt folk continue to work for law changes, particularly relating to workplaces and family matters, and towards social change.    The Wellington AsiaPacific Outgames will end with a massive Revolution party at Estadio on Saturday night and has two double passes to give away! To enter just email telling us the best thing you have overheard at the games, for our Overheard at the Outgames file! Daily News Staff - 17th March 2011

Credit: Daily News Staff

First published: Thursday, 17th March 2011 - 11:57am

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