Co-founder, Vinod Bal, outlines the year that was for Adhikaar Aotearoa and provides an outline of what is in store for 2023.
Adhikaar Aotearoa was created for and by LGBT+ people of colour, particularly South Asians. We know from the Adhikaar Report, that this is a community that routinely faces racial discrimination, familial violence and feelings of not belonging. We exist to try to change this status quo so that our stories of discrimination, violence and depression turn into stories of joy, love and compassion.
Last month marked two years since Adhikaar Aotearoa has been in operation, working towards those better stories. While you can read about our first year here, in our second year of operations, the tempo picked up pace and we worked on accelerating our efforts to create an Aotearoa where LGBT+ people of colour can live authentically, audaciously, and free from discrimination. Guided by our three core areas of work, below is a selection of the work we have carried out/started in 2022. It is just the highlights – much more happens behinds the scenes.
We think it is important that we share this with you for purposes of accountability, and to show you that we don’t just say we do the work, we’re actually doing it.
In 2022, our supporting offering continued, typically in response to need. We have:
Engaged in our community consultations that resulted in the Adhikaar Report. The Adhikaar Report is Aotearoa’s first document that speaks to the experiences of LGBT+ South Asians in Aotearoa. It has been well received by our community, public sector organisations, social support services, NGOs, and Ministers and other MPs. It is a formative document that has already made an impact and will leave an enduring legacy. The Adhikaar Report was necessary for us to know where to focus our future efforts, and it has been useful in supporting other organisations in their imperatives as well,
Provided psycho-social support and referral services to LGBT+ South Asians who have reached out to us,
Provided referral services to rainbow refugees who have reached out to us,
Provided training and guidance to support workers including counsellors and case workers, who then work to support our community,
Worked with religious organisations to enable greater LGBT+ competency when dealing with South Asian communities,
Provided input into LGBT+ sexual violence prevention work.
In 2022, we found that our education offerings were in demand from many sectors across the country. We have:
Provided training to Judges and Coroners around LGBT+ policy and legal issues, and how they can be more responsive to LGBT+ need in the courtroom,
Delivered presentations at conferences organised by: the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law (regarding how international criminal law can be used to provide justice to LGBT+ victims of atrocity crimes), the Centre for Asian Health Research and Evaluation (regarding the preliminary findings of the Adhikaar Report, the Ministry of Ethnic Communities - MEC (in their Dunedin and Christchurch conferences, regarding the experiences of LGBT+ South Asians in Aotearoa), New Zealand Police (regarding the experiences of LGBT+ South Asians in Aotearoa and how they can be more culturally astute), the University of Waikato (regarding the Sustainable Development Goals and LGBT+ rights), Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet - DPMC (regarding countering messages of queerphobia and hate), and Shama’s Connections Hui (regarding preventing sexual violence within ethnic communities),
Connected with broader LGBT+ charities in Aotearoa to support their cultural competency efforts,
Connected with ethnic organisations in Aotearoa to support their LGBT+ competency.
In 2022, our advocacy offering covered both domestic and international settings. The lives of people of colour in Aotearoa, are not confined to the shores of Aotearoa. Our lives are transnational – what happens at home, in South Asia, matters and can have tangible impact. We have:
Worked with various government agencies on a variety of policy projects including the Human Rights Commission (regarding the civil scheme for the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act 2022), Ministry of Justice (regarding the National Action Plan Against Racism), New Zealand Police (regarding ethnic queer victimisation), DPMC (regarding countering messages of queerphobia and hate), MEC (regarding the experiences of LGBT+ South Asians in Aotearoa), Ministry of Education (regarding wellbeing measures), ACC (regarding sexual violence prevention and child sexual violence prevention),
Worked on developing policy positions related to a variety of domestic LGBT+ issues including rainbow refugees, hate speech, hate crime and bodily integrity,
Joined the Equal Rights Coalition National Laws and Policies group which works to enhance global LGBT+ law reform efforts,
Contributed to LGBT+ inclusion work done by the Asian Development Bank,
Co-lead an ongoing project with the Human Rights Measurement Initiative regarding the measurement of LGBT+ rights globally,
Connected with LGBT+ NGOs in India and Sri Lanka to learn about how we can support their efforts.
2022 was a busy year, but we are gearing up for an even busier 2023. We have a variety of work on the go, including, but not limited to:
A resourcing project supported by the Ministry of Ethnic Communities and Rule Foundation whereby we will produce culturally astute LGBT+ resources for our community, in a variety of different South Asian languages. We aim to have these resources ready for our community by mid-2024 (as you could imagine, this is a massive undertaking),
A LGBT+ rights project. Our co-founder, Vinod has secured funding to travel to three continents this year to learn about the state of LGBT+ rights and bring back lessons to Aotearoa about what we can do better, what our LGBT+ rights agenda could look like over the next fifty years, and to explore policy and legal remedies for LGBT+ individuals,
A project around exploring how to prevent ethnic queer victimisation, for New Zealand Police,
Business as usual – supporting LGBT+ people of colour, particularly South Asians who need or want our support.
Our 2022 has continued a momentum that will enable Adhikaar Aotearoa to move into 2023 to give our all to our communities. After all, that is what our communities deserve.
Vinod (on behalf of all of Adhikaar Aotearoa’s trustees – Cayathri, Shaneel, Kiran and Shawn)