Power though Action: Asia Pacific Outgames Human Rights Forum
Convenor of the 3rd Asia Pacific Outgames Human Rights Forum, Jacqui Pearce gives GNN the lowdown on the upcoming program, which features speakers from across a range of LGBTI advocacy groups.
Peace says she has always been involved in working for change as a feminist and now that dialogue has broadened to encompass human rights across the board. New to Darwin, Pearce applied for the role of convenor shortly after settling in the Top End, suggesting to GNN it was a way to meet more people with the same ideas and passions as herself.
Since securing the role she has put together a jam-packed program featuring many of the community’s most prominent advocates, including: Justice Michael Kirby, OII vice president Tony Briffa, trans activist and A Gender Agenda founder Peter Hyndal, Tiwi Island Sistergirl, Crystal Love Johnson and Corey Irlam from the National LGBTI Health Alliance to name a few.
“We have fantastic national and international keynote speakers and a great range of workshop presenters, all working around the theme of this movement for change and how people’s experiences reflect those movements for change," Pearce tells GNN.
Pearce is hoping Outgames attendees will not only partcipate in the games but drop in on the forum as well. “While we have quite a lot of people coming specifically for the forum, we've had a number of enquiries from people competing to attend the forum," she says.
Whilst Pearce is reluctant to name a 'not-to-be=missed' session at the forum – "all the plenary sessions will be very special" - she acknowledges there is no doubt Michael Kirby has his own fan club.
“I’m sure the opening plenary will be full – he’s a beautifully engaging speaker. Whilst I’d be here for all of it – I’m sure there will be a few extras for his opening session."
She hopes participants take the opportunity to build more networks whilst attending the Human Rights Forum. “I think it will great for people to strengthen their networks and share their experiences on how they are doing their advocacy and how they are supporting one another."
She also hopes people take time to reflect on the diversity of the alphabet soup.
“We are such a diverse community – so what’s our common ground? We need to push ourselves hard to find our common ground and see how we can work together by acknowledging that the LGBTI community is incredibly diverse and more diverse by the day."
Pearce is a believer that advocacy needs to happen locally. “It needs to happen at the place it’s at. One of the things we will be focusing on with the forum is how people have done their activism and advocacy. Clearly there are many people living in countries where their lives are at great risk because of how they identify their sexuality or gender. But that also happens in the West too. So the risk exists across the spectrum. There is a continuum of risk. But nonetheless no matter where on that continuum you lie – activism is about moving towards a world where people are liberated to express themselves in whichever way they choose."
Historically the Outgames have always included a human rights component and sporting events and human rights seem to go hand-in-hand. Pearce agrees: “The way I see the Outgames, it’s a place where people can participate in sport and it’s inclusive and they can feel safe. It’s an avenue where sports is open and available to anyone. And that’s not always the case with sports. Sports is an area where the binary is well and truly in place. And even the Outgames has a way to go with that – we have to push ourselves to remain open and really inclusive. We need to always think about why people don't feel comfortable in mainstream sport."
The Human Rights Forum runs from May 14-16, 2014 as part of the Asia Pacific Outgames. The fourm takes place at the Doubletree by Hilton in Darwin.