The Pacific island nation of Fiji was due to celebrate it’s first ever march for gay rights today, but the IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) event was cancelled at the last minute by police.
Oceania Pride, the organisers of the march said that they received a permit last month but the police told them this morning that tonight’s march would have to be cancelled.
‘They said we cannot march today because they did not realise they had given a permit for gays to march,’ said Roshika Deo, a trustee of Oceania Pride.
The organisers were also told the police had received orders from the Ministry of Defence to cancel the march for IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia).
Deo said the official who approved the permit did not know what homophobia meant. She said that despite this discrimination against LGBT people is rife in Fiji: ‘You pick up the newspaper and you read a lot of letters where there’s a lot of homophobia and transphobia’.
The march was to be Fiji’s first public LGBT rights event, after homosexuality was decriminalised in Fiji in 2010 and the Drodrolagi [Rainbow] Movement held a packed-out panel discussion for IDAHO last year.
The 1997 constitution of Fiji prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, but following a military coup in 2006 that constitution was suspended in 2009. Since the coup Fiji residents’ freedom of speech, press, assembly and association has been ‘aggressively curtailed’, according to Human Rights Watch.