LGBT rights in Fiji
|Status||Legal since 2010|
|Gender identity||Not known|
|Discrimination protections||Yes, discrimination banned by the Constitution|
|Recognition of relationships||No|
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. In 2009, the Constitution was abolished. 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.
Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality founded in 2011, Rainbow Pride Foundation, founded in 2008, the Amithi Fiji Project, SAN Fiji, the Drodrolagi Movement, a student group, are among Fiji's main LGBT rights groups.
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.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
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.
In the same time, then Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase defended his nation's criminal laws against homosexuality as being based on the Bible. In contrast, then Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi stated that he felt that gay people should have their right to privacy protected.
Since 1 February 2010, private, adult, consensual and non-commercial male and female homosexual conduct has been legal under the Crimes Decree 2010.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
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". In April 2013, a support group representing LGBT students, Drodrolagi Movement, called for a discussion on the issue. 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.
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". 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. 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. 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.
Discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation is banned in Fiji under the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007.
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.
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. The Constitution was promulgated in September 2013 and includes a provision banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Article 26(3) of the Constitution reads as follows:
|“||A person must not be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly on the grounds of his or her
or on any other ground prohibited by this Constitution.
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 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.
In April 2017, the Fijian Ministry of Health confirmed that gay and bi men are banned from donating blood. 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.
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. Scott and Scrivener's story has become the subject of a 2008 New Zealand documentary, An Island Calling. In September 2017, a gay student was found dead in Nasinu. In May 2018, a young transgender woman was brutally murdered in Suva. Lack of trust in the police due to possible harassment likely discourages LGBT people and couples from reporting anti-gay violence or hateful discrimination.
Social mores regarding sexual orientation and gender identity tend to be conservative, with little public support for LGBT rights. 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. 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. 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.
While not illegal, visitors are advised that public displays of affection are generally considered offensive.
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. Former President Epeli Nailatikau spoke at the event.
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 2010)|
|Equal age of consent||(Since 2010)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment only||(Since 2007)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services||(Since 2013)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)||(Since 2013)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Homosexuality declassified as an illness|
|Conversion therapy banned||(Since 2010)|
|Access to IVF for lesbians|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
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