In Timor-Leste, the LGBTQI community often live on the margins of society. To promote greater tolerance and acceptance of those who identify as LGBTQI, Counterpart collaborated with our partners to host a session to educate the community, which was met with great success.
In September, the Coalition for Diversity in Action conducted the session on gender equity and social inclusion, with special attention on the LGBTQI community. Counterpart’s NGO Advocacy for Good Governance Activity organized the session in response to our partners’ request. The activity regularly meets with focal points for human resources, gender equity and social inclusion from each of its nine partners. While previous sessions focused on sexual harassment, gender bias, and inclusive human resources, many partners expressed an interest in learning more about LGBTQI issues.
The active discussion led all the participants to a greater understanding of the rights of the LGBTQI community and a willingness to be more open and inclusive in the future.
Laura Afonso de Jesus, director of CODIVA, introduced concepts pertaining to the rights of people across the diverse spectrum of sexual orientations, gender identities, and sex characteristics, including how to include members of the LGBTQI community in their programs. Issues such as these are rarely openly discussed in Timor-Leste and the content of the workshop was new for many of the participants. Although some participants were a little uncomfortable with the subject matter, the workshop provided a safe place for people to ask questions and learn more about these important members of the community.
Joao Fernandes Da Silva, from partner Associação Deficiente Timor-Leste, said that he increased his knowledge of sexual diversity and awareness that this diverse community exists. He acknowledged that while issues related to the community are sensitive in the country, it was important to be aware of them.
Another participant, Bernadette Do Santos from PROSPEK, agreed that the session improved her knowledge on LGBTQI and now she recognizes that members of the community are human beings and their rights must be respected.
Another participant expressed her appreciation of this important session, adding that she had gained awareness of the issues. She believed the session encouraged the participants to respect the LGBTQI community and their existence in Timor-Leste. In her opinion, the partner organizations need to include the community of LGBTQI in their programs.
Learn more about the NGO Advocacy for Good Governance activity in Timor-Leste here.