FIJI’S NGO Coalition on Human Rights is calling on the Commonwealth Heads of Government to take immediate steps to repeal legislation that criminalises same-sex sexual conduct.
In a statement released on Thursday, the Coalition confirmed its supporting of the call by the Equal Rights Trust to Commonwealth Governments for the recognition of the rights of Lesbians Gay Bisexuals Trans-gender and Inter-sex (LGBTI) and in particular the removal of discriminatory provisions in their legislation’s.
In the statement, the chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights, Shamima Ali, said, "Laws criminalising 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.
She said many of the laws forbidding homosexuality are the vestiges of colonial British sodomy laws which were not removed once the countries gained independence.
"These (sodomy laws) have been used to fuel homophobia, transphobia, discrimination and violence against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender or inter-sex (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," Ms Ali added.
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.