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Pasifika community urged to back glbt youth

Tue 9 Oct 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Three prominent Pasifika people are encouraging others to support marriage equality in order to show gay, lesbian, bisexual and fa’afafine young people they are accepted by a community which loves them. It follows statements from the likes of Labour MP Su’a William Sio that there is widespread opposition from Pacific Islanders to his colleague Louisa Wall’s Bill redefining marriage, so same-sex couples can wed. He says some ministers in Pacific churches are preaching against the bill and against Labour. Carmel Sepuloni Carmel Sepuloni, who was New Zealand’s first MP of Tongan descent, says it’s important for Pasifika people to support their whole diverse community by supporting the legislation. “We are a marginalised group ourselves – we know as much as anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against. Why then would we be part of a movement to discriminate against others? “Our Pasifika community is diverse. We have as many gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transvestite people as any other ethnic community – they are part of our community not separate to it. If we are to embrace and support all of the members of our community, then we can’t treat one group like second class citizens,” she says. Sepuloni is particularly concerned of the impact of the current marriage discrimination has on youth. “One of the reasons for the attempted suicides that comes up all too often is the issue of sexual identity,” she claims. “We as a Pasifika Community need to accept our young people for who they are and tell them that actually – if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, fa’afafine, there is nothing wrong with them – that is who they are and we as a community love them and will not pass judgement in any way. “One way in which we can demonstrate this is my ensuring that they are treated equally in all facets of their lives, right down to assuring them that they will be provided with the dignity to love and have their relationships recognised in the same way in which same sex relationships are.” Sepuloni adds that she believes religious opposition to the Bill is groundless. “As far as I am concerned the religious arguments that have been used against the proposal to redefine marriage through legislation are unfounded given that the legislation does not impact on religious freedom i.e. churches will not be forced to marry same sex couples.” Fetuolemoana Tamapeau, of the Wellington City Council Pacific Advisory Group, describes Wall’s Bill as common-sense and a step to giving all people the same rights in New Zealand. She describes the support from strong queer Pacific role-models that have been working for marriage equality as encouraging. “It is my hope that marriage equality will break down some of the barriers that are alienating the queer Pacific community,” Tamapeau says. “Community support for the law change is important as it is a show of support for queer Pacific youth,” she adds “The Pasifika community should make a submission to the Select Committee and grasp the opportunity to make a positive difference in our communities with pride, bravery and both hands.” Shigeyuki Kihara Renowned artist Shigeyuki Kihara, who is of Samoan and Japanese descent, says supporting marriage equality is supporting to those in love “whatever their racial, gender or sexual orientation”. She says the current marriage laws grant one group of people in society more privileges than others, and the change would help reduce homophobia and transphobia. Making a submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee for the bill can be done at the Marriage Equality New Zealand website ( Submissions must be made before the closing date of 26 October 2012.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 9th October 2012 - 11:41am

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