13 Jun 2012

Tonga group fighting discrimination against fakaleiti

7:41 am on 13 June 2012

A member of the Tonga Leiti Association says although there's more acceptance now of fakaleiti or transgender men, they are still discriminated against by their families, at school and by the police.

Polikalepo Kefu was one of the delegates at this week's annual meeting in Wellington of the New Zealand Parliamentarians' Group on Population and Development, with a focus on adolescent sexual and reproductive health.

Mr Kefu says the fact that a number of government employees are fakaleiti is making it easier to run campaigns on condoms and HIV.

But he says people are still beaten for being fakaleiti and he himself was abused by his brothers for the way he dressed and his voice.

"One time I heard that I sing in a high note and my aunty said, stop being a fakaleiti, you will be HIV-positive one day. I recall in my memory that is in my early childhood, when I was in primary school in class three or class four."

Polikalepo Kefu says recent cases of abuse include a police investigation into a beachside beating of a fakaleiti, thought to have been dragged out because of the victim's gender.