Finnish Embassy Supports Rainbow Project

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The Rainbow Project’s LGTB Human Rights Advocacy and Capacity Building endeavour was last week funded by the Embassies of Finland and The Netherlands to the tune of N$1,27 million. Finland and The Netherlands have been supporting the work of The Rainbow Project in Namibia since 2004. “Finland’s human rights policy is based on the Universal Nature of Human Rights. Even though international human rights agreements leave some freedom of action for states in applying them, violations of human rights cannot be justified by appealing to such factors as culture or religion,” said the ChargÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© d’Affaires of the Finnish embassy, Seija Kinni-Huttunen, at the hand-over ceremony. According to her, human rights are indivisible and interdependent. “Well-balanced development requires the realization of all human rights, traditional civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Freedom of speech, for example, is of little use if lack of education prevents participation in the functions of society,” she intimated. Finland’s development and human rights policies focus on groups that are more often discriminated against than others, such as women, children, minorities and indigenous peoples. “Owing to its own experience, Finland has a lot to offer in dealing with these issues. The focal points of the human rights policy are directly linked with the preconditions for development as mentioned before. Even though Namibia is doing well – compared to most of its neighbouring countries – there is always room for improvement,” she said. She further said that the rights of sexual minorities have long been acknowledged by Finland. “I am proud to mention that our current President Tarja Halonen was one of the founding members of the Finnish association for Sexual Minorities called SETA, which was founded some 30 years ago. In development cooperation, Finland promotes human rights on the one hand, as a cross-cutting theme through a rights-based approach and, on the other hand, through specific projects for promoting human rights, democracy and good governance,” Kinni-Huttunen said. The Finnish Embassy continues to support The Rainbow Project to pursue its main goal of Human Rights Advocacy and Respect of Human Rights for Sexual Minorities, and building its own institutional capacity in order to enhance independence and sustainability. “I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to carry on with your work with new-found enthusiasm, and I thank you for the very good cooperation through the past years and wish you good luck with your work,” she concluded.