16 Apr 2024

Call for justice after suspected murder of Fiji's LGBTQI+ community member

2:44 pm on 16 April 2024
Rainbow wristbands in wrists of asian boy couple with blurred background, concept for celebration of lgbtq+ community in pride month or in June around the world.

Concert Kete honours Pride Month Photo: 123RF

The Coalition on Human Rights is calling for justice following the suspected murder of a 19-year-old gender diverse person in Fiji.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the non-governmental organisation (NGO) said their team and the LGBTQI+ community in Fiji are devastated by the suspected murder of Esther, also known as Setariki Ravato.

Witnesses said the victim was allegedly tortured and murdered after being taken from outside her home.

The NGO said a statement has apparently been filed at the Lautoka Police Station, but there has not been a public update on an investigation.

"We request that the full force of the State from Home Affairs, Fiji Police Force and Ministry for Health and Medical Services are brought to bear on this horrific case," the statement said.

"We demand that the human rights of this young person are clearly defined in all dealings with this case."

Fiji's Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission said it "strongly condemns all forms of violence, homophobic hate crimes and attacks on people on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, or those who do not conform to the binary socio-cultural gender stereotypes and 'norms'".

"We are concerned and deeply saddened that a young life has been lost."

Noelene Nabulivou, executive director of DIVA for Equality, and member of the Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR), said a group of people has taken the life of a 19-year-old, subjecting them to "extreme sexualised torture, violence and indignity".

"It is way past time we ask ourselves: just what kind of society we are, with so much violence and patriarchy in our country?"

The Trans Affirmative Action Guild also released a statement, saying the Fiji Bill of Rights explicitly protects the rights of LGBTQI individuals, "ensuring that we are entitled to the same freedoms and protections as every other citizen".

"However, despite these legal safeguards, LGBTQI people in Fiji continue to face systemic discrimination, harassment, and violence, as evidenced by Ravato's tragic murder."

RNZ Pacific has contacted Fiji Police for comment.

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