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Spotlight put on lgbti rights in the Pacific

Wed 21 May 2014 In: International News

Dr Paula Gerber The Pacific is being described as an important frontier for lgbti rights. Kaleidoscope Australia Human Rights Foundation says the Pacific has received very little media coverage about lgbti rights, although there are nine Pacific countries that still criminalize homosexuality. The Asia Pacific lgbti rights and advocacy organisation says individuals in many of these countries are regularly subjected to discrimination and persecution. In a piece for Gay Star News, President Dr Paula Gerber points at that for example, in Papua New Guinea, gay sexual activity is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. “Although this is rarely enforced, the government recently indicated to the UN Human Rights Council that it would not repeal the offensive laws. Classifying homosexuality as a crime, even if it is not strictly enforced, has a chilling effect on lgbti communities, for it signals to them they are not tolerated by society and can still be arrested at any time.” Dr Gerber points to the Solomon Islands is another Pacific country that criminalizes homosexuality and has deeply entrenched homophobia. “There are unlikely to be advances in LGBTI rights in the Pacific until such time as homosexuality is no longer classified as a crime,” she says. Read her full piece here Dr Gerber has also told Radio NZ the Pacific is becoming a target for missionaries preaching against homosexuality. "There's signs that outside churches are starting to focus on the Pacific and to send missionaries or preachers there who are intolerant of homosexuality and are indicating to families that if they've got a transgender child or a homosexual son or daughter that they should reject them." Dr Gerber says homosexuality must be decriminalised in more countries in the region in order to combat increasing rates of HIV infection.     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 21st May 2014 - 12:04pm

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