Papua New Guinea told to make gay sex legal

At a regional pacific meeting a leading politician of Papua New Guinea called upon her country to decriminalize homosexuality 

Papua New Guinea told to make gay sex legal
26 July 2012

The current leader of the opposition in Papua New Guinea’s parliament, Dame Carol Kidu, has called upon the country’s government to decriminalize homosexuality.

She made the comments at a regional Pacific parliamentarian meeting that was held in Brisbane, Australia, reported Radio Australia.

‘It’s time to decriminalize homosexuality’ she told to the parliamentarian meeting and recounted how a gay couple she personally knows suffers under the present law.

Male same-sex acts are prohibited according to section 210 of the Papua New Guinea penal code. Those caught engaging in anal sex can get punished with up to 14 years imprisonment. Other acts can be punished with up to three years imprisonment.

Dame Kidu told Radio Australia that gay rights are a human rights, not as a criminal offence. Decriminalizing homosexuality will allow gay people to live with dignity and without fear.

She stated: ‘To me the issue is about adult consenting sexual behavior in private.’

She also her governments rejection of last year’s UNHCR’s global call to decriminalize homosexuality, which was slammed as against the traditions of the country.

Dame Kidu said: ‘There is a lot of denial going on in all our countries when they’re saying that homosexuality was brought in by the western world. To be quite frank that’s not true.

‘Anthropological writings make it very clear that homosexuality did exist traditionally and it was ritualised in initiation ceremonies in certain areas of Papua New Guinea.

‘But Christian influence and… British colonial laws turned our backs on what was recognized traditionally.’

She called upon the churches in Papua New Guinea who run most of the country’s HIV services to be part of a move to decriminalise homosexuality as it is also a health issue.

The law drives same-sex acts ‘underground’ and thus encourages risky behavior that endangers not only gay people but heterosexuals as well.

She therefore argued that decriminalizing homosexuality will also help to reduce the HIV rate and benefit the entire country.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference for Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, which runs HIV support services, has offered qualified support for Dame Carol Kidu’s stance.

Speaking with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program, the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Father Victor Roach, stated that he cannot support her outright.

But he said: ‘If [a homosexuality allegation] is brought to the court and it has to be tried, I think the church is against it [the trial].’

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