LGBT rights in Fiji

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LocationFiji.png
StatusLegal since 2010[1]
Gender identityNot known
MilitaryNot known
Discrimination protectionsYes, discrimination banned by the Constitution
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo
AdoptionNo

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Fiji may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. In 1997, Fiji became the second country in the world after South Africa to explicitly protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation in its Constitution.[2][3] In 2009, the Constitution was abolished.[4] The new Constitution, promulgated in September 2013, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. However, same-sex marriage remains banned in Fiji and reports of societal discrimination and bullying are not uncommon.

The Rainbow Pride Foundation, founded in 2008, the Amithi Fiji Project, and the Drodrolagi Movement, a student group, are among Fiji's main LGBT rights groups.

History[edit]

Similarly to the fa'afafine of Samoa, the māhū of Hawaii and the whakawāhine of New Zealand, Fiji has a traditional third gender population. Such individuals are known as the vaka sa lewa lewa. They are assigned male at birth but dress, act and behave as female, and have traditionally been accepted by Fijian society.[5]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

In 2005, Australian tourist Thomas McCosker had consensual sex with an adult named Dhirendra Nadan. The men were tried and jailed under the nation's sodomy law, but the conviction was subsequently overturned in August 2005 by the nation's highest court as violating the Constitution.[6][7][8]

In the same time, then Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase defended his nation's criminal laws against homosexuality as being based on the Bible.[9][10] In contrast, then Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi stated that he felt that gay people should have their right to privacy protected.[11]

In 2006, the Fijian High Commissioner in New Zealand confirmed that there is now a policy not to arrest gay men for consensual gay sex.[12]

Since 1 February 2010, private, adult, consensual and non-commercial male and female homosexual conduct has been legal under the Crimes Decree 2010.[13]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Fiji family laws do not provide legal recognition of same-sex marriage or civil unions. Since 2002, the law has expressly banned same-sex marriage.[14][15]

On 26 March 2013, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama expressed opposition to the idea of same-sex marriage. Answering a question raised by a caller on a radio talk-back programme, he stated that same-sex marriage "will not be allowed because it is against religious beliefs".[16][17] In April 2013, a support group representing LGBT students, Drodrolagi Movement, called for a discussion on the issue.[18] In January 2016, the Prime Minister reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying "there will be no same-sex marriage in Fiji" and suggested that lesbian couples seeking to marry move to Iceland.[19]

In 2019, after speculations that some churches support the idea of same-sex marriage, the Prime Minister reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying, "As long as we are in government – Fiji will not allow same-sex marriage", because Fiji is a "God-fearing country".[20] His stance was backed by the Catholic Church in Fiji, the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma, the Shree Sanatan Dharm Partindhi and the Fiji Muslim League, which all voiced their opposition to same-sex marriage.[21] Director of the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Ashwin Raj said that "same-sex marriage is not a right" and that there needs to be more clarity on what the Constitution of Fiji states on the issue of same-sex marriage, and that "the priority must be towards addressing discrimination faced by the LGBTI community". He also called for "a calm and rational debate" about the issue.[22] The Fiji Coalition on Human Rights said it was "disappointed and disturbed" by the Prime Minister's stance, arguing that his remarks go against the basis of Fiji's laws and contradicted his commitment to the United Nations Human Rights Council. It called on authorities to get together and discuss progression towards the inclusion of the LGBT community in Fiji.[23]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation is banned in Fiji under the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007.[24]

In 1997, the Constitution included a provision that specifically prohibited government discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In 2009, the Fiji Constitution was formally abolished by the President.[25][26]

In April 2013, the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, stated that a new constitution, which was supposed to be finalized sometime in 2013, would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.[27] The Constitution was promulgated in September 2013 and includes a provision banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.[28][29] Article 26 of the Constitution reads as follows:[28]

It was reported in 2013 that the Government had included sexual orientation and gender identity in an anti-hate speech law as well as a law dealing with discrimination in certain businesses.

Conversion therapy[edit]

Conversion therapy has a negative effect on the lives of LGBT people, and can lead to low self-esteem, depression and suicide ideation.

The Mental Health Decree 2010 states that people are not to be considered mentally ill if they refuse or fail to express a particular sexual orientation, and prohibits any conversion therapy by registered health professionals in the field of mental health.[30]

Blood donation[edit]

In April 2017, the Fijian Ministry of Health confirmed that gay and bi men are banned from donating blood.[31] The Ministry's statement came after a gay man attempted to donate blood but was refused because of his sexual orientation. Ashwin Raj, the Fiji Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission Director, later said that he would investigate the policy, arguing that it is unconstitutional and discriminatory.[32]

Social conditions[edit]

A majority of citizens affiliate with Methodist or Catholic denominations, which traditionally view same-sex sexuality and transgenderism negatively. The third largest religious group, about 6% of the population, are Muslim, who also tend to view homosexuality and cross-dressing as sinful behavior that needs to be fixed. While other, generally more tolerant, religious traditions do exist in Fiji they tend to have smaller memberships. These prevailing religious mores tend to influence the status of LGBT people within society.

Reports of hate crimes against LGBT people in Fiji are rare, although there has been some, possible, high-profile case of a same-sex couple being the victims of a bias motivated crime. On 1 July 2001, Red Cross leader John Maurice Scott and his partner, Gregory Scrivener, were brutally murdered in Suva, in an apparent homophobic attack with a possible political motive.[33] Scott and Scrivener's story has become the subject of a 2008 New Zealand documentary, An Island Calling.[34] In September 2017, a gay student was found dead in Nasinu. In May 2018, a young transgender woman was brutally murdered in Suva.[35] Lack of trust in the police due to possible harassment likely discourages LGBT people and couples from reporting anti-gay violence or hateful discrimination.[36]

Social mores regarding sexual orientation and gender identity tend to be conservative, with little public support for LGBT rights.[15] While some human rights activists do some low-key work on LGBT rights concerns, the Government has, in the past, cancelled gay pride marches from taking place.[37] On 17 May 2013, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), LGBT activists organised activities to promote LGBT rights and equality. Drodrolagi Movement, an LGBT advocacy group, said that discrimination and bullying remain problems in Fiji.[38] In 2017, an event celebrating IDAHOTB was held in the capital of Suva. The event was attended by many LGBT activists as well as religious figures.[39]

While not illegal, visitors are advised that public displays of affection are generally considered offensive.[40]

Fiji's first pride parade was held on 17 May 2018 to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia. The march took place in Lautoka, Fiji's second largest city, and was the first such march in a Pacific island nation (excluding New Zealand and some dependent territories, such as Hawaii). Local police provided an escort for the participants.[41] Former President Epeli Nailatikau spoke at the event.[42]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2010)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 2010)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (Since 2007)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2013)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2013)
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military Emblem-question.svg
Right to change legal gender Emblem-question.svg
Homosexuality declassified as an illness Yes
Conversion therapy banned Yes (Since 2010)
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fiji's new decree says gay sex is now legal". Gaynz.com. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  2. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. "Refworld - Fiji: Treatment of homosexuals by society and government authorities; recourse and protection available to homosexuals who have been subject to ill treatment (2005 - March 2007)". Refworld. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  3. ^ "Fiji - GlobalGayz". GlobalGayz. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Fiji's president takes over power". BBC News. 10 April 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  5. ^ Page 1. Defining gender diversity
  6. ^ "gmax.co.za". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Fiji: Sodomy Law Convictions Violate Constitution". Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  8. ^ "yax-479 Fiji's unnatural sex laws overturned". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Fiji PM says homosexuality a sin". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Prime Minister says Fiji's Sodomy Law Reflects Biblical Truth". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Cengage Learning". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Fijian High Commission confirms; no more arrests for consensual gay sex in Fiji". Pink News. 11 July 2006. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  13. ^ "Same sex law decriminalised". Fijitimes.com. 26 February 2010. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Marriage Act [Cap 50]". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Same-sex marriage in Fiji". Go-fiji.com. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  16. ^ "No same-sex marriage: PM - Fiji Sun". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  17. ^ Fiji prime minister says no to gay marriage Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Group for gay Fiji students calls of discussuion on same-sex marriage". Radio New Zealand. 5 April 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  19. ^ Fiji Prime Minister Tells Gay Couples To Move To Iceland
  20. ^ Bia, Aliki (8 April 2019). "Same-sex marriage will never happen in Fiji: PM". FBC News.
  21. ^ Bolatika, Maika (10 April 2019). "Faiths Back PM On Same-Sex Marriage Stance". Fiji Sun.
  22. ^ Bia, Aliki (9 April 2019). "Raj gives clarification on same-sex marriage issue". FBC News.
  23. ^ "Fiji NGO chief condemns Bainimarama's no same-sex marriage stance". Radio New Zealand. 10 April 2019.
  24. ^ "Employment Relations Promulgation 2007". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  25. ^ Updated (10 April 2009). "Fijian president Ratu Josefa Iloilo abolishes constitution, sacks judiciary and assumes power". Theaustralian.com.au. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  26. ^ "Fiji's President Abolishes Constitution, Fires Judiciary". Foxnews.com. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2011.
  27. ^ "Fiji Times Online : Page Not Found". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  28. ^ a b CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF FIJI
  29. ^ "President signs long-awaited Fiji constitution into law". ABC News. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  30. ^ Mental Health Decree 2010
  31. ^ Fiji confirms ban on homosexual blood donors Radio New Zealand
  32. ^ Controversy in Fiji over ban on blood donations from gay men Radio New Zealand
  33. ^ "Scrivener was tortured, says family". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  34. ^ "In the name of God". Stuff. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
  35. ^ "Murdered on International day against Transphobia: fears Fiji killing is a hate crime". ABC News. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  36. ^ "Fiji Victims Of Anti-Gay Violence Often Fear Community Reprecussions If They Report Attacks To Police". Pacific Islands Report. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  37. ^ "Fiji police cancel gay rights march". Radio New Zealand International. 17 May 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.
  38. ^ Fiji: LGBT rights campaigners say discrimination remains a major issue Pink News
  39. ^ Celebrating IDAHOT – Love Makes a Family Fiji News
  40. ^ "Fiji: Gay & Lesbian Travellers". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  41. ^ Fiji hosts first Pride Parade on IDAHOTB
  42. ^ Ratu Epeli to address LGBTQI conference, The Fiji Times, 17 May 2018