The annual Isabelle Lake Memorial Lecture is organised jointly with the University of Western Australia. The lecture is held on 17 May each year to mark IDaHOBIT (International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia).
On 17 May 2019 the lecture was given by Joey Joleen Mataele, the lead protagonist in the award-nominated film ‘Leitis in Waiting’.
Joey is also the co-founder of the Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity network and is the Pacific Island Representative for the International Gay and Lesbian Association.
Ms Mataele said the Leitis’ (transgender women’s) diversity and distinct behaviours often placed them outside the perceived ‘normal Tongan way’, which led to marginalisation.
“In Tonga and some of the Pacific Islands the transgender community, same-sex relationships and female impersonation are not recognised or protected by law.
“This lack of legal recognition contributes to social invisibility and lack of influence on policy makers responsible for resource allocation and service delivery,” she said.
Acting Commissioner Byrne said the event provided audience members with a valuable opportunity to learn more about transgender issues.
“The Tongan transgender community does share many of the same issues as our own transgender community here in WA; however, it was interesting to learn how the community struggles to find its voice in Tonga without human rights laws to protect them,” he said.