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Hotels: Fiji "doesn't discriminate"

Thu 1 Jun 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

Fiji is not anti-gay, according to the defensive Fiji Islands Hotels Association, which claims the tourism-reliant Pacific nation does not discriminate on gender or sex, despite advice to the contrary provided by Fiji's High Commissioner to New Zealand. Hotels Association chief executive Mereani Korovavala was responding to the controversy surrounding New Zealand's Out Takes gay film festival offering a prize of a holiday for two adults at a Fiji resort. The NZ AIDS Foundation, Body Positive Auckland and a growing number of gay human rights observers in New Zealand have expressed extreme disappointment at the prize offer, because legislation criminalising homosexual acts between adult men in private appears to still be on the Fiji statute books. This is despite a ruling last year by a High Court of Fiji judge which eventually freed an Australian tourist and a local man jailed for having sex, on the basis that the law is contrary to Fiji's constitution and human rights obligations. Fiji also prohibits HIV positive people, the majority of whom are gay men in New Zealand, from entering the country. The Fijian government is currently under considerable pressure from the powerful Fijian Methodist Church to remove protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation from the Fijian constitution. "The [Hotels] association promotes tourists as tourists. We're not dividing them into groups," Mrs Korovavala told the Fiji Times today. "All tourists who love Fiji as a destination are more than welcome," she added, without mentioning the country's legal position. In a recently published but undated letter the Fiji High Commissioner to New Zealand, Sushil Sudhaker, clearly states that “engaging in sexual activity, regardless of having it in private and with consent, between two males is a criminal offense in Fiji and those engaged in this act are liable for prosecution.” Out Takes says it is increasingly concerned by Fiji's anti-gay sex law and is seeking urgent clarification from the High Commissioner.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 1st June 2006 - 12:00pm

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