Not everyone is in support of the inclusivity of all persons in Palau and this was made clear during the celebration of the International Women’s Day event held this week at the Palau National Gymnasium
LGBTQ is still a sensitive topic in Palau, with many holding to the conservative Christian views of gay/lesbian persons and others of different sexual persuasions as against the Christian faith.
The chief matriarch of Koror, Bilung Gloria Salii, expressed strong opposition to the inclusion of members of LGBTQ, in the public discussion during the event, where panelists from different NGOs presented.
Bilung, a fervent Seventh-Day Adventist, has been vocal against the acceptance of gay/lesbian persons.
“As I was sitting here with many school-age children, a gay (mengol otaor) person went up on stage and spoke. It is like we are teaching our children that this is ok,” said Bilung, objecting to Rondy Rondy speaking on a panel about the LGBTQ community of Palau.
But most of the crowd, especially young people, expressed support for the representative of the LGBTQ community, breaking into applause three times during his presentation.
On social media, people came out expressing support for Rondy and the LGBTQ community.
Some lauded Mr. Rondy for being brave enough to take on such a controversial issue and coming forward to talk about it.
One commenter said, “While everyone has the right to express their opinions, it is important to be mindful of the impact that words can have on others. It is essential to create a safe and inclusive environment for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics. Therefore, it may necessary to restrict individuals who express harmful and discriminatory views from speaking at forums to ensure that we promote a society that values diversity, inclusion and respect.”
This year’s International Women’s Day is themed “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” (“Kede ngoriakl el bek el chad el kirel a beches el uldasu me a cheldechuul el melisiich er a redil er Belau”). Vice President Uduch Sengebau-Senior said that Palau joined the UN in its call for a safer, more inclusive, more equitable digital future. The women-led Forum convened government officials, diplomatic corps, NGOs and CSOs, students, the private sector, and even the general community in a discourse focused on leveraging digital connectivity to achieve gender empowerment and combatting online gender-based violence.