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Fiji’s Attorney General calls for acceptance of LGBTIs and other minorities

Fiji’s Attorney General calls for acceptance of LGBTIs and other minorities

Fijian Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has called for people to respect the rights of minorities, in line with his country’s Constitution – one of only two in the world that enshrines the rights of LGBTI people.

Sayed-Khaiyum made the comments at the close of the 16th Attorney General of Fiji conference, saying that Fijian law was clear when it came to issues of discrimination.

‘The Constitution is very, very progressive,’ Sayed-Khaiyum said, according to the Fiji Sun.

‘It prohibits unfair discrimination on a number of grounds including gender, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation and gender identity.’

‘I am sure we all in this room agree that nobody should be bashed up or physically assaulted simply because a person belongs to a minority group or because one is homosexual, transgender or looks feminine,

‘How we treat individuals in our society is critical in determining hour we wanted to be treated ourselves as individuals. In this respect, society needs an attitudinal change.’

However Sayed-Khaiyum said it was also important to remember that discrimination could occur inside minority groups and that members of minority groups were not immune to behaving in a discriminatory manner themselves.

‘Within women’s groups or homosexual groups there could be discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status and color,’ Sayed Khaiyum said.

‘The danger of homogenizing groups is that it hides the injustices within those groups.

‘The key of course is to ensure that there must be equality at all levels and which must crisscross through the different facets, with respect for human dignity at all times.

Fiji became the second country in the world to explicitly protect sexual minorities in its constitution in 1997.

However despite that laws criminalizing sex between men remained in the Pacific island nation until February of 2010.

A new constitution, put in place in September of 2013, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, and gender identity or gender expression – making Fiji one of the most progressive nations in the Pacific region when it comes to LGBTI rights.