Raj: Blood Donation Guide‘Highly Discriminatory’

Raj: Blood Donation Guide‘Highly Discriminatory’

The Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj says that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services’ eligibility guidelines for donating blood as ‘highly discriminatory’.

Mr Raj was responding following a report from Fiji Village claiming that a man in his 20s was turned down because of his sexual orientation.

The ministry in its response to this said it was following guidelines from the World Health Organisation.

Mr Raj said: “It is highly discriminatory and contrary to Section 26 of the Constitution which expressly provides that one must not be unfairly discriminated against because of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.”

The ministry statement said: “The WHO guidelines also advise against accepting blood donations from people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviours such as those who have multiple sex partners, receive or pay money or drugs for sex, including sex workers and their clients, men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with MSM.”

“Not only is it contrary to Section 26 of the Constitution, it is also contrary to the HIV Aids Act.

“Furthermore, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is in fact prevalent amongst heterosexuals, are they precluded from donating blood?

“HIV aids are no longer the cancer of the gay community. It’s sad that this person was subjected to ridicule for doing good and the HRADC will investigate this matter.”

Mr Raj said the commission would investigate the matter.

University of the South Pacific law graduate, Shamil Ali, who is openly gay said having donated blood many times and even getting phoned, how the officials have the knowledge that one is gay or bisexual.

“As a person who cares for the people for the sake of humanity, I am frustrated and saddened by the statement condemning donation of blood by homosexuals.

“For a small country like Fiji, what needs to be put to the forefront is quicker testing procedures and promotion of safe sex.

“Fiji has been inactive in reviewing their policies,” Ali said.

“At the end of the day, a person on a death bed would not say ‘please make sure it is heterosexual blood.”

Politician Roshika Deo said: “WHO is no expert in every country or local situation; they offer general guidelines which we need to apply in our own local and country context.

“When will we start using the information we have at hand and deriving policies that reflect our situation and not just an easy and lazy way out by adopting or applying offered, available, discriminatory and outdate policies,” Ms Deo said.

She stated that in Fiji, 85 per cent of HIV Aids are transmitted by heterosexual behaviour, with around six per cent through bisexual and homosexuals.

“Are we going to ban heterosexuals from donating blood given the high risk they pose to contaminating the blood?

“Also given the constant shortage we face in blood supply and how this impacts surgeries and medical procedures, including lifesaving surgeries, one also needs to look at the technologies we have access to or should get access to for blood donation testing.

“Do Ministry of Health have access to this technology? If not, was this ever put in their budget submission?

“Instead of spending money on purchasing bushmasters and military weapons, an efficient and high human impact policy would be using our scarce resources towards the blood donation situation.

“Why is our policy making processes still fragmented and does not take into account all the information, research and data available?” Ms Deo said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji became the first country in the Pacific to host a Pride parade.

21 May 2018
Shannon Power


Photo: Rainbow Pride Foundation 4 LGBTQ Rights and Equality in Fiji

Fiji has just made history as the first country in the Pacific to host a LGBTI Pride parade.

The Pride March coincided with this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBT).

Rainbow Pride Foundation 4 LGBTQ Rights and Equality in Fiji organized the history making event. It decided to hold the parade in Fiji’s second biggest city, Lautoka, after police denied multiple requests to hold it in the capital, Suva.

Rainbow Pride Foundation’s executive director, Isikeli Vulavou said it was a ‘breakthrough’ to get permission to hold the parade. Local police even provided an escort for the 50 parade participants.

‘Being part of the parade, the participants shared on how liberating it was for them to call upon the public to realise that people of sexual and gender minorities exists, and are here to stay,’ Vulavou told Gay Star News.

‘For another, it was a historic moment, and was glad to be part of a time, when LGBTQI people were finally given a space to freely express themselves, have their voices heard on the streets, and simply being acknowledged for who they are.’

Fiji is a small country in the South Pacific Ocean with a population of just under 900,000 people.

Homosexuality is legal in Fiji. It became the second country in the world to enshrine the rights of LGBTI people in its Constitution. South Africa was the first country to do so in 1994.

But LGBTI people still face discrimination and violence, sometimes even at the hands of their own families.

In 2012, police cancelled an already approved Pride March at the last minute because it ‘did not realise that this was a march for gays and lesbians’.

Even Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama is not very supportive of LGBTI people. He famously said in 2016 that all LGBTI people in Fiji should move to Iceland and stay there.

Event to raise awareness on LGBTQI challenges

SHAYAL DEVI18 May, 2018, 11:00 am

Members of the LGBT Rainbow Pride Group . Picture: BALJEET SINGH

Event to raise awareness on LGBTQI challenges

DISCRIMINATION and harassment endured by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community is still eminent in society.

Rainbow Pride Foundation (RPF) executive director Isikeli Vulavou claimed because of their sexuality or gender identity, many Fijians were separated from family and friends, harassed in the workplace or on the sporting field, abused by their neighbours or assaulted on the streets.

As the world prepares to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), advocates in Fiji are preparing to mark the event by raising awareness on the challenges faced by the LGBTQI community.

“Inequalities and exclusion also impedes sustainable human development and as such there is a need to reduce inequalities and end exclusion for all those left behind. “This means creating enabling legal and policy environments that will end all forms of stigma and discrimination and advance the rights of all people including LGBTQI people,” he said.

Mr Vulavou said IDAHOTB was an important opportunity to display the vibrancy of the LGBTQI community and the organisation’s commitment to fighting for equality and acceptance.

“This year’s IDAHOTB theme is ‘Alliances for Solidarity’, recognising the importance of solidarity and alliances, in the work to highlight the struggles, celebrate the achievements and continue to press for change, of hearts and minds towards people of gender and diverse sexual minorities.

“We will be highlighting recent RPF research, the discussions and activities shedding light on the overlapping dimensions of exclusion LGBTQI people face based not only on their sexual orientation or gender identity, but also on other identities such as their ethnicity, religion or social status.”

Yesterday the foundation marked the event in Lautoka.

Ratu Epeli to address LGBTQI conference


FORMER President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau will be in Lautoka this evening to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB).

The event, organised by the Rainbow Pride Foundation, will highlight the struggles of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) community.

Rainbow Pride Foundation executive director Isikeli Vulavou said they were proud to work with partners to celebrate the rich diversity of vibrant communities across Fiji.

“By raising visibility, we hope to continue to address prejudice and discrimination and work towards fostering an inclusive and cohesive society that is healthier for us all,” Mr Vulavou said.

“On this day, let us recommit to building a more just and inclusive world where well-being, opportunity and human dignity are for everyone, including LGBTQI people and their families.”

International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB) is marked globally on May 17.