Samoa’s parliament has supported a change to the country’s constitution to reflect it as a Christian state.
Some politicians argued the change could help prevent external pressures to change Samoa’s laws around LGBTI issues.
Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi tabled the Constitution Amendment Bill in December saying Samoa was ‘misled’ for a number of years.
The South Pacific island’s population of 200,000 is 98% Christian with a small minority of Muslims and Bahá’í.
Currently the Constitution’s preamble refers to the country’s Christianity but PM Tuilaepa believes it must be changed.
The preamble says: ‘will enshrine Christianity from within the body of the Constitution which effectively provides a legal definition of the State’s religion’.
‘(It is) inadequate in terms of how Samoa as a Christian State is not included in the body of the Constitution. Instead it is in the cover and the preamble of the Constitution, not within the body of the Constitution,’ Tuilaepa said in parliament.
‘This means that we have been misled all these years. And every time we say that Samoa is founded on God because it is in within our Constitution, God must’ve had a good laugh and though that we have been fooling him.’
The Christian state and LGBTI people
MPs debated the issue in parliament with many agreeing to the change.
‘For instance if we make laws and bills, we need to make decisions that will reflect that we are a Christian country,’ said MP Lealilepule Rimoni Aiafi .
‘So if other countries push us to make laws such as to allow same sex marriage, then we have to say no because that will not show that we are a Christian country. That will never happen in Samoa.’
Homosexual sexual activities are outlawed in Samoa but employers cannot discriminate against people because of sexuality.
Samoa’s Fa’afafine – third gender – population are widely accept and play a critical role in the country’s traditional culture.