LGBT rights in Nauru

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LGBT rights in Nauru
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Male illegal; female legal (Penalty: Up to 14 years imprisonment)
Gender identity/expression -
Military service N/A (Military defense is the responsibility of Australia)
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Recognition of
Adoption No[1]

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people living in the island nation of Nauru face legal and social challenges not experienced by non-LGBT persons. Male-male homosexual acts remain illegal and there is no legal recognition of same-sex marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. Under law, male homosexuality may be punished with up to 14 years imprisonment and hard labour.[2] According to the United States Department of State, there were no reports in 2012 of prosecutions directed at LGBT persons.[3]

Nauru announced in 2011 its intention to decriminalize homosexual activity between mutually consenting adults.[4][5]


Homosexuality has been illegal in Nauru since 1899[6] when the island was a German protectorate. The current sodomy laws were introduced in 1921 when the island was under Australian rule and are based on the Criminal Code of Queensland.[7] Those laws were retained following Nauruan independence in 1968.

In January 2011, Mathew Batsiua, Minister for Health, Justice and Sports, stated that the decriminalisation of "homosexual activity between consenting adults" was "under active consideration".[8][9] In October 2011, the government pledged to decriminalize same-sex sexual acts; however, no relevant legislation was enacted by the end of 2014.[10][11]


According to various sections of the Criminal Code, same-sex sexual acts may be punished with imprisonment of up to 14 years:

Section 208. Unnatural Offences. Any person who:

(1) Has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or

* * * *

(3) Permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature;

is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for fourteen years.[12]

Section 209. Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences. Any person who attempts to commit any of the crimes defined in the last preceding section is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for seven years.[12]

Section 211. Indecent Practices between Males. Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for three years.[12]

No law specifically mentions same-sex sexual acts between women.[13]

International reaction[edit]

Australia has commended Nauru for its commitment in its National Report to decriminalise homosexuality.[14]

Sweden has recommended the Government of Nauru recognize the principle of non-discrimination which prohibits discrimination on any ground, including sexual orientation, and to abolish the law that criminalizes homosexuality.[15]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]