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'Acting for change’

19 July 2022

Rugby Union

Ex MP wants religious leaders to fight for LGBTQ community and women in Pacific

Wednesday 13 April 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in New Zealand, Regional

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Ex MP wants religious leaders to fight for LGBTQ community and women in Pacific
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

A former New Zealand MP aims to find the "Desmond Tutu of the Pacific" to help tackle LGBTQ issues for Pasifika.

Louisa Wall has been appointed by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Ambassador for Gender Equality (Pacific)/Tuia Tāngata, beginning May 2.

Her role will be to establish new partnerships and programmes that support the full and effective participation by women and LGBTQ, and equal opportunities for leadership in the Pacific.

She wants to find open-minded religious leaders to help tackle LGBTQ and women's issues in the Pacific.

"Primary support needs to come from political and religious leaders in the country.

"I need religious leadership. People who have an ability to self-reflect and think about their historic engagement in the space. I want to find the Desmond Tutu of the Pacific who will want to be part of making some change."

Wall introduced marriage equality legislation in New Zealand which enabled same-sex marriage to happen in 2013.

And she hoped to influence the Pacific in a similar way.

Wall has Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngati Hineuru and Waikato ancestry as well as family in Samoa.

As well as championing marriage equality, she advocated for safe zones for women seeking abortions.

Gender equality and the rainbow community would be her core focus and women's sports teams would be a vehicle to achieve greater recognition for women.

"It is not about me being clear about the change that is needed. It's about supporting the voices of women and the LGBT women across the Pacific so that their needs are better articulated. And then we can find solutions to some of the issues they identify for themselves," Wall said.

It was important to acknowledge indigenous history, particularly colonisation, and how "it has eroded the role of women" and "Pacific LGBT rights," she said.

"We have always existed, we exist in our culture and it's an opportunity to analyse and assess where we are today in our involvement in our whanau," she said.

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Photo: Wikimedia

The same was hapening in Pacific nations and she said it was important to acknowledge the influence of western beliefs and ideas, particularly around sexuality.

Wall planned to tackle many controversial issues in Pacific nations including "archaic laws".

"Our ancestors were Takatāpui (homosexual) we did have a place, we weren't excluded, we weren't isolated and certainly not criminals," Wall said.