Father waits for the day
I bring a crimson bride
Yet if I sit on a white horse
It’ll be an empty ride
-“Beta,” Rakesh Ratti, Yaraana
As you may know from our “why we exist” page, Adhikaar Aotearoa was created for LGBTQIA+ people of colour, particularly South Asians, who for one reason or another, are unable to be their authentic selves or who need a bit of help getting there. Adhikaar Aotearoa is for the kid who thinks they will have to live their whole authentic life inside a diary, it is for the parent who wants to learn more so they can support their LGBTQIA+ family members, and it is for organisations who want to be better at ensuring they are responsive to the needs of LGBTQIA+ people of colour, particularly South Asians.
Our communities are strong, resilient, and have stories of joy, love and compassion. We want to bring these experiences to the fore and universalise them. Everyone should be loved and accepted for who they are, regardless of their skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion or any other social categorisation.
We have been around for just over a year; we were incorporated as a charitable trust under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957 in mid-January 2021. We have spent this past year engaging with stakeholders, organisations, but most importantly, with our communities. We have learnt a lot, and we have done a lot. Below is a selection of work we have carried out/started in 2021:
- Spoke at the inaugural National Rainbow Ethnic Community Hui organised by the Ministry of Ethnic Communities;
- Provided solicited recommendations to the Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill Submission;
- Applied for and received contestable funding for our community consultation project that we are running this year;
- Submitted on the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill Submission to the New Zealand Parliament’s Justice Committee;
- Wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade asking her to institute policy recommendations that would enable greater movement of LGBTQIA+ Afghani refugees into Aotearoa;
- Attended and spoke at a variety of hui run by organisations such as the Human Rights Commission, the (Office and the) Ministry of Ethnic Communities, Rainbow Hub Waikato, and Hamilton Pride, among others;
- Started off our “Policy Project” whereby we are reviewing government policy to ensure it is responsive to LGBTQIA+ people of colour, specifically South Asian, needs. We are looking at education, foreign policy, criminal justice, healthcare, community development and immigration;
- Participated in the “Say My Name” campaign in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton to support trans persons;
- Met with other organisations working in the LGBT sector to see how we can support each other; and
- Most importantly, engaged with members of our community.
It was a busy 2021, but we are gearing up for a busier 2022. Our community consultation project starts in March. We will be travelling the country asking our communities about their stories, what they need and what they want. Be sure to sign up using our Google Form if you would like to attend one of our huis. We are working on an LGBTQIA+ South Asian history project also. Often our communities think that queerness or gender diversity is a “western thing”, but that is definitely not the case. South Asian cultures were known globally for their sexual and gender diversity. Our project will show our communities that our ancestors were queer and trans and that they were accepted and loved – we will reclaim this history. We are also working on a project around reconciling multiple identities – more on this in the second half of the year. Add to this, our ongoing policy intervention work, and work with other organisations, 2022 is going to be a good year.
Our 2021 set up a foundation that will enable us to move into 2022 to give our all to our communities. After all, that is what our communities deserve.
Vinod, Cayathri and Shaneel