Conference / Format
Gathering of all conference participants to hear inspiring keynote speakers. Plenary speakers reflected the diversity of our communities.
The majority of the conference programme were presentations, panels and workshops looking at sexual orientation, sex and gender identity issues across six themes. The stream programmes ran at the same time and you could choose to attend sessions across all the streams or to follow all the presentations in a particular stream. Most streams offered presentations in each session over the 3 days of the conference while some streams only occurred on one day. The six streams were:
- Work / Mahi
- Learning / Te Akoako
- Well-being (Mind and Body) / Te oranga hinengaro me te tinana
- Our Stories from the Past / O tatou k?rero mua; he taonga
- Law and Our Rights / Te ture me to tatou mana
- Spirit / Te taha wairua o te ora
Expressions of interest weresought from individuals, groups and organisations to give presentations, lead workshops or participate on panels on topics related to each stream. Contributions from indigenous people, young and older persons, whakawahine, fa'afafine and trans and intersex people were particularly encouraged. The organizing group is happy to put you in contact with representatives from these communities in New Zealand.
The conference was designed to encourage links between groups, communities and issues. There were opportunities at the end of days 1 and 2 for individual groups to meet (caucus) to discuss issues specific to them. The following caucuses were held:
- Whakawahine, fa'afafine and trans
Conference Language The language for conference presentations was English. There were no translation services offered.
Each stream focused on human rights as they impact on these different aspects of our lives. Contributions to the streams gave the opportunity for our voices to be heard, to tell our stories about our experiences and our struggles and how we have learnt from them. Contributions allowed us to learn from each other about strategies and initiatives to promote, advocate and protect our human rights.
Everyone has the right to decent and productive work, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (Principle 12: The Right to Work, The Yogyakarta Principles)
We spend a huge amount of our lives at work, so ensuring our employment and workplaces are free from discrimination is critical to the full implementation of our human rights.
Workers' rights are human rights and trade union rights are central to the delivery of these rights. Unionists have been active in building LGBTI-friendly and gender-safe workplaces. Large corporations have begun to adopt diversity programmes in the workplace that include the recognition of same sex partner entitlement to employee benefits.
Since LGBTI rights are inter-connected with HIV/AIDS in the workplace, the ILO campaign on HIV/AIDS was covered. One focus of this stream was a comparative analysis of LGBTI rights in the Asia Pacific region with a particular focus on workplace rights and how rights have been won and how we can extend these rights further.
Everyone has the right to education, without discrimination on the basis of, and taking into account, their sexual orientation and gender identity. (Principle 16: The Right to Education, The Yogyakarta Principles)
The experiences of LGBTI students, teachers and families in early childhood education, schools and tertiary education have ongoing impacts on their health, wellbeing and life chances. The evidence from New Zealand and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region is that LGBTI students are currently worse off than straight students on nearly all measures. LGBTI family members, and families of LGBTI students, do not always feel welcome at their children's schools. LGBTI educators often do not feel safe to be fully themselves at work.
All LGBTI young people have a right to experience an education that enhances their health, wellbeing and life chances, and educators are a key to this. This stream provided an opportunity for people from the Asia Pacific region to share issues and ideas for making progress.
Wellbeing (Mind and Body)/Te oranga hinengaro me te tinana
Everyone has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental aspect of this right. (Principle 17: The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, The Yogyakarta Principles)
While many LGBTI people live healthy, happy lives, as a population LGBTI people are known to have significantly poorer health outcomes than the general population in several key areas, including mental health, suicide, general health ratings, and alcohol and other drug use. Well-being is directly influenced by stigmatization and discrimination, threats to personal safety and systemic and structural inequalities such as access to healthcare. This stream focussed on the correlation between human rights and well-being and successful strategies to address inequalities in health outcomes for LGBTI people.
Our Stories from the Past/O tatou korero o mua; he taonga
Everyone has the right to participate freely in cultural life, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and to express, through cultural participation, the diversity of sexual orientation and gender identity. (Principle 26: The Right to Participate in Cultural Life, The Yogyakarta Principles)
Many LGBTI people draw inspiration from the stories of LGBTI people in other cultures and from their own past. Participants were encouraged to share lessons, successes, and challenges from human rights campaigns across the region. We also focussed on how preserving and providing access to our stories is important for human rights campaigns and reminding the mainstream that LGBTI people have always existed, do have a past and have lives of value.
Law and Our Rights/Te ture me to tatou mana
Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Everyone is entitled to equality before the law, and the equal protection of the law, without any such discrimination, whether or not the enjoyment of another human right is also affected. The law shall prohibit any such discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against any such discrimination.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity includes any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on sexual orientation or gender identity which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality before the law or the equal protection of the law, or the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity may be, and commonly is, compounded by discrimination on other grounds including gender, race, age, religion, disability, health and economic status. (Principle 2: The Rights to Equality and Non-Discrimination, The Yogyakarta Principles)
Many advances have been made towards ensuring that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live in dignity and without fear. Yet throughout the Asia Pacific region people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities experience profound and disturbing violations of their human rights. At the same time, the region abounds with a rich diversity of cultural and social expressions of sexual orientations and gender identities, for example: hijra and kothi in India, fa'afafine, akava'ine, fakaleiti, and mahu in the Pacific region, takatapui and tangata ira tane in Aotearoa New Zealand. This stream focussed on the diverse experiences of peoples in the region, current legal issues, the rights based approach, effective advocacy and emerging issues such as human rights and the Internet, sexual rights, and disability and sexuality. Participants were encouraged to critique academic and theoretical constructs of rights from community perspectives and based on practical experiences.
Spirit/Te taha wairua o te ora
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. These rights may not be invoked by the State to justify laws, policies or practices which deny equal protection of the law, or discriminate, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (Principle 21: The Right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, The Yogyakarta Principles)
Many LGBTI people who grow up in a religious tradition are faced with a choice between their faith and their sexuality at the point that they come out. This stream was grounded in an affirmation that we should not have to choose between Spirit and Sexuality. It offered critiques of religious and spiritual traditions that exclude LGBTI people. More than that, it looked at how LGBTI people are resisting attempts to force choices on them. It celebrated queer lives of faith in multiple traditions and examined what the LGBTI communities have to offer religious traditions and communities.
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