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Thu 13 Jul 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation is “delighted” that the Fijian High Commissioner has confirmed that gay men will not be arrested for consensual sex in Fiji. MP Maryan Street, had sought clarification in light of an undated letter from the High Commission, published in Express newspaper, which claimed anti-gay laws were still enforceable, in spite of a Fijian High Court ruling that declared the anti-gay laws unconstitutional and unenforceable. “This is a great step forward for the human rights of gay citizens and tourists as well as HIV prevention efforts,” says NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier. “In combination with existing human rights protections for gays and lesbians in Fiji's Constitution, Fiji is now following a path to equality that New Zealand has helped to pave.” The issue of gay men being arrested for consensual sex was highlighted after the Out Takes Reel Queer Film Festival offered a prize trip for two to Fiji. The Fijian High Commission's letter conflicted with the ruling of Fiji's High Court, and led to uncertainty over the legal situation faced by gay men in Fiji. The NZAF points out that decriminalisation of gay sex in New Zealand in 1986, was essential to ensuring HIV positive men could seek treatment, and that the safe-sex message could be freely disseminated in order to stem the epidemic. “The spread of HIV is facilitated by the prejudice, discrimination and marginalisation of minority communities,” says Le Mesurier. “Making gay men into criminals only serves to drive sexual activity underground, making it almost impossible to reach them with safe sex information and life-saving condoms.” Any government's efforts to “lift suppression and silence around sexuality and HIV are to be commended and supported,” she adds.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 13th July 2006 - 12:00pm

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