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Commonwealth Urged To Decriminalise Homosexuality

Towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights
Thursday October 27, 2011


The Fiji NGO Coalition on Human Rights supports the call by the Equal Rights Trust to Commonwealth Governments for the recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and in particular the removal of discriminatory provisions in their legislations.

"Laws criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct are contrary to international human rights law and the 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles which includes a clear commitment to tolerance, respect and understanding’, said Shamima Ali, Chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights.

"Many of the laws forbidding homosexuality are the vestiges of colonial British sodomy laws which were not removed once the countries gained independence and have been used to fuel homophobia, transphobia, discrimination and violence against those who are LGBTI or have non-normative gender expressions.”

Same-sex sexual conduct is currently prohibited in 42 of the 54 countries which are members of the Commonwealth of Nations including Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu from the Pacific region.

“We applaud Nauru for committing to decriminalise homosexuality but note with grave concern that Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Tonga have all rejected recommendations to decriminalise same-sex sexual conduct,” Ali added.

Fiji’s NGO Coalition on Human Rights has also applauded the Equals Rights Trust and other individuals and organisations calling on the Commonwealth Heads of Government to take immediate steps to repeal legislation that criminalises same-sex sexual conduct.

The Equal Rights Trust (ERT) is an independent international organisation whose purpose is to combat discrimination and promote equality as a fundamental human right and a basic principle of social justice.

In its submission ERT urges the Heads of Government to establish a Ministerial Action Group to address the issue of laws criminalising same-sex sexual conduct and advise states on the legal implications of retaining such laws, and to include a commitment to tackling laws criminalising same-sex sexual conduct in the final communiqué of the 2011 meeting in Perth, Australia.

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The NGO Coalition on Human Rights is a coalition of civil society organisations that works towards a Fiji that respects and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms within the framework of the rule of law.

ENDS

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