Rainbow Wellington often gets approached about lgbti issues and to help support for lgbti people in places like Nigeria, Uganda and Russia. We consider International Human Rights as a priority. Just because New Zealand has achieved a lot, doesn't mean that people living overseas are living in a comfortable life style.
Our Chairperson, Rawa Karetai is a member on the board of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, Oceanic (ILGA, Oceanic). Though our membership, we hope to help more actively on the international stage. Already, RW has contributed to reports for the Commonwealth Head of Government Meetings (CHOGM) and to the United Nations (UN).
While the oppression of the lgbti communities in places like Nigeria, Uganda and Russia seem so distant from our daily lives here in New Zealand, Rainbow Wellington Board members have been following the events happening overseas. This past year we have heard first hand the damaging impacts of policies made aboard. Rainbow Wellington has been in contact with people seeking help and looking for options when their own country is hostile towards them and we’ve been able to help provide them with contacts to assist. Our Chairperson has had a couple of conversations via Skype and the courage and activism of lgbti communities in these countries are wearing thin, but they still fight on. Showing solidarity and support is important to the board but we’ve also helped by giving a local voice to New Zealand media about these issues.
Over the past few years, Rainbow Wellington urged New Zealand leaders, and those from across the Commonwealth, to take action to stop widespread human rights abuses against LGBTI people. Homosexuality is still illegal in 41 of the 53 Commonwealth member states and Rainbow Wellington joined other organisations in particular, the Kaleidoscope Trust to help produce a report into Commonwealth human rights abuses called “Speaking Out: The rights of LGBTI citizens from across the Commonwealth”.
Rainbow Wellington has had a working relationship with the US Embassy ever since Former Ambassador David Huebner first took office. Since then Rainbow Wellington has hosted a few meetings over his tenure and the board thought it was only fitting that we farewelled him when his tenure finished late in 2013. Since then, I have presented at the American Embassy’s Nxt:14 LGBTIQ Youth Leaders Conference and Rainbow Wellington will continue a working relationship with them into the future. We are currently waiting for the new Ambassador to be formally signed off however we understand that Mark Gilbert, 52 has accepted President Obama’s Nomination. Once Gilbert presents his credentials to our Country's Governor General, we will arrange to meet with him to discuss our ongoing relationship with the embassy.
Alongside the relationship with the US Embassy, we've also started to develop relationships with the Italian Embassy and recently made the Ambassador to New Zealand a Vice-Patron.