Tonga Mourns Polikalepo Kefu, an LGBTQ Activist Known for His ‘Positive Energy’
Beloved Tongan LGBTQ activist and human rights fighter Polikalepo Kefu, also known by his nickname “Poli,” was found dead on May 1. He was president of the only LGBTQ rights organization in Tonga, the Tonga Leitis Association. Police have already charged a 27-year-old man from Fungamisi Vavaú with the murder.
Poli was beloved and respected across the globe, heralded for his unyielding activism, positivity and leadership. Consensual same-sex relations remain criminalized in Tonga; homophobia, transphobia and anti-LGBTQ sentiment are commonly held beliefs in the country.
The Tonga Leitis Association was founded in 1992 to advocate on behalf of the country’s most at-risk populations. It specifically seeks to support trans and gender-nonconforming folk with its work and outreach.
The association in a statement about Polikalepo Kefu said this:
Poli, as he has known to many of us, was a selfless humanitarian and a tireless advocate for the rights of those with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
In these dark and troubling times, we are reminded of Poli’s light and positive energy, and we encouraged knowing that this is when we are most needed to continue our work.
The Tonga Leitis Association is the only nonprofit in Tonga that works with people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics. They are committed to ensuring equality under the law, providing health and education, and becoming a part of the island kingdom’s HIV response. Polikalepo Kefu balanced being a staunch Tongan LGBTQ activist with warmth and charm.
Openly gay Olympic swimmer Amini Fonua had this to say:
Poli was a beacon of light, whose smile and sense of humor touched so many lives. Poli’s work for equality and human rights is well documented through all his volunteer work and presidency at the Leitis Association. Poli was a fighter for all the voiceless LGBTQ people, not just in Tonga, but all throughout the Pacific.
Tongan princess Hon. Frederica Tuita admitted she was “devastated” by Poli’s passing.
He will be missed by so many across the globe.