Fiji police today cancelled a permit for the country’s first gay march.
Fiji’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community were to march today to commemorate the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, Intersexes and Queers (LGBTIQ).
Police Commissioner Brigadier General Ioane Naivalurua said he had directed an immediate review of the permit application because of the safety of the gays, lesbians, and supporters.
Brig Gen Naivalurua said the safety of all Fijians is the main priority for the police force and recent media attention towards the group’s decision to hold a march today has influenced his decision to cancel the permit.
He said as a non-discriminatory organisation their decision to cancel the permit was only done in the interests of all Fijians.
The organisers said the police told them they had received a directive from the Ministry of Defence to cancel the march but the ministry told FijiLive they have nothing to do with this as the decision solely lies with Commissioner of Police.
The permit was given to organisers Oceania Pride on April 20 by the Fiji Police Force and then subject to this the Suva City Council gave approval for the public procession. .
Oceania Pride founder Jasmine Kaur said the cancellation of the permit by the police is a violation of the freedom of expression/opinion of the LGBTIQ community, activists, and individuals who were going to march.
“This is a violation and denial of human rights. One of the key components of democracy or any democratisation process is the protection of freedom of expression and opinion.”
Kaur said the government had assured the public that all groups and the people of this country will be heard and included in any process.
“Cancelling the permit because it was for the promotion and protection of LGBTIQ rights is a concern.”
An Oceania Pride trustee Roshika Deo told AFP police told her that the official who vetted the permit application had not realised what the words homophobia and transphobia referred to.
"They said we cannot march today because they did not realise they had given a permit for gays to march," Deo told AFP..
She said organisers had expected about 60 people at the march.
Homosexuality had been decriminalised in 2010.
By Ropate Valemei/AFP