12 Dec 2016

Tonga's LGBTI community wants law change

7:27 am on 12 December 2016

Tonga's LGBTI community has called on government leaders to revise legislation in order to protect LGBTI people.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and others in the community took part in an historic national consultation in Tonga last week with church leaders and government MPs.

The Tonga Leiti's Association petitioned for changes to the Criminal Offences Act on sections to do with cross-dressing and sodomy.

It also raised discussions with the church on its acceptance and attitudes towards LGBTI people.

A spokesperson for the association, Henry Aho, said the overall response they received was positive.

"Very positive from the mainstream churches, very positive from government.

"They're eager to work together and partner up with TLA to see what we can do to move forward.

"Parliamentarians are happy to work together - they are saying that they are very approachable and that they are open to any of the suggestions we may have," said Henry Aho.

UN 'I'm a Proud Pacific Islander" video for campaign against homophobia / transphobia.

UN 'I'm a Proud Pacific Islander" video for campaign against homophobia / transphobia. Photo: UN / youtube

The President of the Tonga National Council of Churches challenged its members to be more open to discussions with the LGBTI community.

Soane Patita Cardinal Mafi congratulated the community for raising discussions with church leaders around acceptance of LGBTI people within the church.

Cardinal Mafi says more open discussions would bring about a better understanding between the community and the church.

"Hopefully the more we talk these things out with some encouraging words with one another.

"But the basic essential thing is to make them feel accepted. They're valued in their dignity. They are persons created by God," said Cardinal Mafi.

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