IDAHOT Report 2015: New Zealand

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This year many activists across New Zealand came together to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia by addressing the issues facing their local communities. This year the country was named the best in the world for the legal situation of LGBTI individuals by The Guardian newspaper, and the actions that took part this year reflect the people’s commitment to the human rights of the LGBTI community. People from all walks of life this year advocated for the advancement of all groups within the LGBT spectrum. A special focus was also seen on youth issues, as well as issues facing native groups.

Students from the University of Otago this year developed a special campaign aimed at promoting the representation of non-binary gender identities among young people. The campaign, which was organised by the queer support representatives of the OUSA Student Support Centre, featured the release of a special series of badges promoting awareness of non-binary identities.

The 6 badges, which were distributed throughout the school’s student body, promoted the correct use of pronouns, as well as awareness of trans, intersex and agender individuals. Messages such as ‘ask me my pronouns’ and ‘are you a girl or a boy? Yes!’ were designed with the aim of increasing the visibility of an often-under represented group of society.

Across the country the It Gets Better project helped promote the day through their international partnerships. The local branch, which works in New Zealand and Australia, released a special music video with Australian girl band G.R.L which helped to raise awareness of the day, as well as advocate for the aims of the group. The video was also released alongside a special live performance which was streamed online.

In Whanganui the sexual diversity charity Inside Out partnered with the Sexual Health Network to run a special regional Hui in the area. The event, which was similar in style to the traditional gatherings held by indigenous groups, aimed to promote diversity in the region, whilst also raising awareness of the LGBT individuals within native communities.

The event was run in three parts, an affirming diversity workshop run by Family Planning that aimed to provide education for health professionals; a special workshop for the parents and caregivers of young LGBTI people, and finally two days of youth-led workshops aimed at people from 13-24.

The final part of the event, which was run by young local volunteers, aimed to address the aspirations of young people, while promoting the roles of diversity and support within young people’s lives. The event was part of Inside Out’s ongoing commitment to promote the representation and support of sexual and gender diverse individuals within schools, communities and youth-oriented areas. The main aims of the IDAHOT events was the promotion of national diversity.

Support for the day was also seen from New Zealand’s international community. In Wellington the American embassy to New Zealand, Mark Gilbert, addressed the day in a special video released online. In the video Ambassador Gilbert praised the important work done by New Zealanders to address bigotry both at home and abroad. The ambassador also especially highlighted the incredible work being done by many young people to promote the shared ideals of tolerance, diversity and respect.

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