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Rainbow families are more than just about surrogacy and adoption

'Rainbow Families is a family that we let into our hearts. It’s a priceless membership that we pay only with love'

Rainbow families are more than just about surrogacy and adoption
Some of the delegates at the Asia-Pacific Rainbow Families Forum in Hong Kong (Photo: Athena Lam)

Rainbow families and their supporters from across the Asia Pacific region are making history in Hong Kong right now.

From a Samoan doula, to a decades-long gay Australian activist, to a transgender Malaysian leader, delegates from more than 27 countries are coming together for a series of ‘courageous conversations’ in the 2nd annual Asia-Pacific Rainbow Families Forum.

The three-day forum seeks to highlight Rainbow Families are more than just about surrogacy. Their needs are complex, but there is universality to their experience across the region.

Planet Ally – a leading nonprofit dedicated to empowering allyship and advancing human rights – is organising the forum along with International Family Equality Day (IFED).

Its founder and executive director, Bess Hepworth, is ‘so excited’ to bring together the sharing of real experiences and stories.

This sharing will support ongoing research and advocacy work urgently needed. It will help to promote recognition, protection and equal treatment of Rainbow Families in the Asia-Pacific.

Three people standing on a step laughing, one is holding a rainbow umbrella over the heads of the others

Some of the delegates at the Asia-Pacific Rainbow Familie s Forum in Hong Kong. | Photo: Athena Lam

‘How we as a society define ‘family’ sets the stage and communicates a message for how the most vulnerable people in our communities are treated,’ Hepworth says.

‘It’s because often families include children.  And, when one type, or one style, or one design of family is more valuable than all the others, children suffer.

‘When we allow the definition of family to be severely limited, it means that children in all the other kinds of families are not protected, not valued, not counted and not acknowledged.’

Core themes of the forum 

Some of the key themes the group will explore will be, interfaith issues, media advocacy and visibility as well as supporting rainbow families in the workplace, and intersex topics.

Participants have come from right across the region and from different backgrounds when it comes to their involvement with Rainbow Families.

a group selfie shot with about 10 people pulling silly faces

Some of the delegates at the Asia-Pacific Rainbow Families Forum in Hong Kong. | Photo: Athena Lam

‘I’m a 54 year old mother of two. I am the the Sworn General and Defender in Chief of the Faafafine and Faafatama Realm in Samoa,’ says Ymania Brown, executive director The Pacific Human Rights Initiative.

Brown is at the forum to learn more about the experiences of other LGBTI families in the region. For her, strengthening relationships will help her to do her work better.

‘In the Pacific, you are only as strong as the other links in your woven baskets. If those links are not there, you cannot have a basket,’ she said.

‘In the Pacific, no basket, no life. Everything we do is about that woven basket that we use for fishing, for raising families, for cleaning, for feeding, for life!’

Follow the forum’s action at the #APRFF2018 on social media.

Images: Athena Lam (


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