In a bid to improve its advocacy work, a representative from Te Tiare Association (TTA) took part in the regional ‘Effective LGBTQI Rights Advocacy’ virtual training held over a week ago.
executive officer Tatryanna Utanga took part in a nine half-day virtual
training organised by the Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network (PSGDN).
aim of the training was to increase the knowledge and confidence of Network’s
national member organisations and strengthen their capacities in
effective LGBTQI rights advocacy strategies that focus on key issues that
affect them. These issues include ending violence and discrimination against
Pacific Islanders of Diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities &
Expressions and Sex Characteristics (PIDSOGIESC+).
is illegal in the Cook Islands under the Crimes Act 1969, which criminalises
“indecent acts” and acts of “sodomy”.
lead up to the August 1st general election, Prime Minister Mark
Brown said a review of the Crimes Act 1969 of the Cook Islands would be
redrafted after the election in which there would be no mention made of
homosexuality as a crime.
to Cook Islands News, Utanga said: “I personally found the training very
important because it helps us be better or more equipped advocates for our
organisations i.e. TTA. The training offers negotiation, organisation and
reporting advocacy skills that should enhance the way we engage in advocacy
activities. With the alluring matter of the Decriminalisation of Homosexuality
legislation on the horizon, it is most opportune that we prepare ourselves for
the inevitable tasks of reigniting this campaign in our movement for equality
training highlighted some of the more pivotal mechanisms that, as advocates
they need to be aware of, said Utanga.
six-step focused programme unpacked varying strategies on how to advocate
effectively and informed the participants of the potential risks when operating
outside of these recommended strategies.
said she found these risk management tactics to be most useful to assist
advocates on better planning and foresight, adding learning from the
experiences of fellow regional members was very insightful and beneficial
our Pacific context it’s about synergising our efforts for equality with our
traditional, religious, law and civic communities. It’s about working together
to realising those changes rather than forceful clashes.
an advocate, I understand that everyone has a right to their own opinion on the
matter, however I am more focused on getting across to our audience the correct
messages, respectfully. Sometimes in these spaces advocates are at high risk of
negative backlash so it’s imperative that we equip ourselves with the mental
and emotional tools on how to address those risks.”
chief executive officer Isikeli Vulavou said the organisation recognised the
need to increase and improve the advocacy capacity of national member
organisations at the forefront of fighting for their rights.
training provided queer advocates with all the necessary tools and guidelines
that would equip them to advocate more effectively with different levels of
society and the stakeholders that occupy/influence these different spaces so
that there is some positive change in behaviour, habits, policy, and
legislation for PIDSOGIESC+,” Vulavou said in a statement.
outlined that the training was an outcome of an identified need, allowing the
participants to design effective and relevant advocacy strategies that tackle
and eliminate the deeply ingrained homophobia at societal and institutional
said when Te Tiare Association convenes, they will organise a similar workshop
with their members, paying forward the lessons learned from the training.
look forward to engaging more visibly in advocacy spaces beginning with the
impending legislation changes as promised by the campaigning parties prior to
the August 1 government general elections.”
total of 23 participants from Kiribati, Tuvalu, Palau, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa,
PNG, and Fiji participated in the training, which was supported by UN Women
through the Spotlight Initiative.