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ACTIF Funded Projects: Fiji and Jamaica Initiative

Project description

The goal of this two-year project is to change the hearts and minds of families and faith communities in Jamaica and Fiji so that they can become more inclusive and embrace LGBTQ2I people of faith in order to improve their lives, allow them to express themselves completely and be an integral part of their families and faith communities. It seeks  to improve the lives of LGBTQ2I people of faith in Fiji and Jamaica, by changing social norms or community acceptance on LGBTQ2I issues and by reducing discrimination and violence. Homophobia and transphobia have impacted every institution of society throughout history, and while we recognise that religion has contributed significantly to this, we aim to shift religious narratives through dialogue with LGBTQ2I people of faith to focus on the fact that the central value for all of the major world religions is compassion, and that no religious tradition actually promotes the marginalisation of human beings.

Fiji and Jamaica Initiative 2022

Religion can be either an obstacle or an asset in expanding human rights for LGBTQ2I people. Overwhelming evidence has shown however that religion has been a major obstacle to the full inclusion of LGBTQ2I people in society.  A religious attack requires a religious response, and the LGBTQ2I community needs more training and strategizing around how to confront religious attacks. LGBTQ2I people have historically had to choose between their spirituality and their sexuality, a choice no one should have to make. They are both attacked by the religious right and often ostracized within the LGBTQ2I community because of their association to faith and religion. While religion has historically been the enemy of LGBTQ2I people, many LGBTQ2I people are also people of faith, and this opposition has added to their difficulties.

A key response to these situations is to empower LGBTQ2I people of faith to engage with religious communities as part of the struggle to achieve equality. According to the Global Philanthropy Project, spirituality is the most underfunded of the various strategies employed to achieve equality. Less than 1% of funding globally goes towards spirituality and religion in LGBTQ2I activism. In short, we currently engage in important work that receives very little funding and very little attention. Global activism efforts have always been confronted with religious extremism which has been the main opposition to LGBTQ2I inclusion and rights. We need a new approach to bridge the gap between religious groups and LGBTQ2I communities in promoting acceptance. Religion, due to the important roles it plays in the Pacific and the Caribbean, needs to be viewed as a dimension and agent of change rather than a barrier. This project aims to create that distinction and harmonize LGBTQ2I activism with the fundamentals of religion, acceptance and compassion. This project will address the above issues, which is essential to engendering community acceptance of LGBTQ2I persons, and through increased conversations between faith leaders and LGBTQ2I representatives, change will occur.