Last edited: February 10, 2005

Fiji Rights Endangered

PlanetOut News, January 6, 1999

Fijian activists have issued an urgent call for support as the Parliament considers whittling away their newly-won rights.

Gay and lesbian activists in Fiji are calling for international letters of support to preserve their newly-won constitutional protections from discrimination. The 1998 national constitution is only the second in the world to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (Section 38(2) of the Bill of Rights), following South Africa. But as soon as it was adopted, religious conservatives led by the Fiji Council of Churches and the Methodist Church of Fiji raised fears that this would mean legal same-gender marriages. Even though Attorney General Ratu Eruate Tavai quickly rejected those claims, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka directed him to have the Parliament develop amendments to specifically prohibit same-gender marriages and retain the nation’s sodomy law. The Parliament’s Committee on Consequential Legislation agreed, the Parliamentary Counsel drafted the measure, and the amendment is expected to be enacted soon.

The Australian Council for Lesbian and Gay Rights has already called on their Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to urge Fiji to preserve the protections in its Bill of Rights; a spokesperson for the group said, "We are also concerned that qualifying or removing protections for lesbians and gay men will set a precedent for eliminating other constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms."

On behalf of the Fijian Coalition on the Right to Sexual Orientation (including the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Women’s Action for Change, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, and Citizens Constitutional Forum), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is urgently requesting letters to: Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Prime Minister’s Office, Parliament Complex, Box 2352, Government Buildings, Republic of Fiji (fax 011-679-305-204) and Leader of Opposition, Opposition Office, Box 2352, Government Buildings, Republic of Fiji (fax 011-679-305-317), with copies to the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, 88 Gordon St., P.O. Box 12882, Suva, Fiji (e-mail

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