All around the world, gender and sexual minorities are more visible than ever, making incremental progress toward acceptance and inclusion in some countries, suffering rejection and violence in others, and being used to stir ugly political division in most.
More often than not, religion and culture are at the center of these debates, setting up the false notion that a society cannot simultaneously be faithful, adhere to its traditions, and be tolerant of difference.
Cultural understandings of gender and sexuality in the Pacific have historically lent to more inclusive societies, but the legacy of colonialism and Christian missionizing have created deep challenges. A recent influx of fundamentalist religious influences from abroad is injecting inflammatory, Western-style transphobia and homophobia into the mix in many countries, including in 76 around the world where colonial-era laws that criminalize the lives of LGBTI people are still on the books.
The heartfelt stories in Leitis in Waiting offer a powerful lesson in how these turbulent waters can be navigated, modeling ways to overcome the increasingly hostile bigotry and incivility that dominate civic life across the globe.
The LEITIS IN WAITING PACIFIC EQULITY PROJECT uses community screening events and online gathering spaces to bring people together to foster dialogue, promote human rights, advocate for legislative change, and challenge attitudes, practices, and laws that stigmatize, threaten, and criminalize LGBTI lives.
Based on a concept of reconciliation known throughout the Pacific as talanoa - the respectful sharing of truths in communal dialogue - the goals of the campaign are to raise visibility, challenge negative stereotypes, promote inclusion and equality, and help protect the rights of gender and sexual minorities in the region and around the world. Events are also aimed at helping host organizations to expand their constituency of members and supporters for longer-term work.
Leitis in Waiting is more than a movie, it's part of the growing movement for human rights and equality for all.
To explore ways you can support or collaborate in the campaign, or to host an event in your community, please contact us at: LeitisinWaiting@yahoo.com
Tonga Leiti's Association
Pacific Sexual & Gender Diversity Network
Asia Pacific Transgender Network
The Commonwealth Equality Network
United Nations Free & Equal Campaign