Gay Oceania News & Reports

 1 Solomon Islands: Mother remanded on lesbian charge 12/03

2 You can thank Pacific Islanders for your view of sexuality 6/04

3 HIV and Human Rights International Guidelines 11/07

4 Pacific Men Who Have Sex With Men Need… More 10/08

5 Pacific Sexual Diversity Network – HIV/AIDS 6/09

6 Understanding The Process Of Homosexual Identity… 7/09

7 Gay students band together 9/10

8 Lower HIV Prevalence Among Asian/Pacific Islander MSM 12/10

9 Decriminalizing Homosexuality–first step to establish equality 10/11

8 December 2003 – Herald Sun, Melbourne, Victoria,Australia

Solomon Islands
: Mother remanded on lesbian charge

From correspondents in Honiara
A woman in the Solomon Islands has been refused bail after appearing in court on Monday on a lesbian charge, in a case being monitored by the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR). Magistrate Jefferson Leua said the offence was a serious one and the middle-aged, divorced mother would be remanded in custody to ensure there was no interference with witnesses.

The woman faces one charge of committing an indecent practice, having sex with a person of the same gender. The head of the UNHCR’s Honiara Office, Ashley Wickham, said the case would be followed closely. "We should be trying to comply with international standards, and clearly some things have been happening here that do not," Wickham said.

16 June 2004 – New Zealand Herald, Auckland, New Zealand

You can thank Pacific Islanders for your view of sexuality

Tapu Misa
Depending on where you stand on the homosexual debate, we in the Pacific could either be blamed or lauded for our impact on matters gay.

Since those first European explorers sailed into the warm waters of the Pacific and became the grateful beneficiaries of the sexual largess of Polynesian women, we’ve had an undeniable influence on the way in which Westerners have viewed sexuality. Thanks to the work of countless writers, artists and ethnographers, that influence has been assumed to be largely of the heterosexual kind, given the Pacific’s long reputation for being something of a heterosexual utopia. But according to Dr Lee Wallace, a women’s studies lecturer at Auckland University, that’s only the half of it.

The other, and less-known half of the story, is that the Pacific has played a seminal role in the emergence of modern homosexual identity. Yes, I know, ironic isn’t it? Especially when you consider how pious and proper we Pacific Islanders have become, and how fervent many of us have become in the stand against homosexual encroachment on our churches.
Still, Dr Wallace mounts a persuasive argument in her book Sexual Encounters when she posits that early European encounters with Polynesians opened up new ways of viewing sexuality – particularly homosexuality.

Because up until then, it had indeed been a world without homosexuals. The kind of world, in fact, that the new head of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe, and many of his Christian supporters seem to believe could once again exist. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been blamed/credited (take your pick) with sexual influence we didn’t know we had. All the time we thought we were the ones being influenced by those devout Christian missionaries, who introduced a new morality and the idea of sin into the Pacific, and besought us in the name of the Lord to cover up, discard our lascivious dances and love a little less indiscriminately, we had no idea that accounts of our apparent sexual laxity were having a liberating effect on sexual attitudes around the globe.

American anthropologist Margaret Mead didn’t help matters when she wrote her internationally celebrated 1928 book Coming of Age in Samoa. Her picture of an idyllic, gentle and sexually uninhibited culture where adolescents were free to indulge in sexual activities without the attendant guilt caught hold of imaginations already piqued by ethnographic accounts of the Pacific as a kind of sexual free-for-all. Whatever the weaknesses of Margaret Mead’s thesis, the same could be said about same-sex relations witnessed by Europeans in pre-missionary Pacific days.

In fact, says Dr Wallace, it was these encounters between European and Pacific peoples in the 18th and 19th centuries that gave rise to our modern understanding of homosexual possibilities and identity. Her somewhat subversive readings of the accounts of such historic luminaries as James Cook and his lieutenant Joseph Banks, French artist Paul Gauguin and even the ill-fated William Bligh (of Mutiny on the Bounty fame) reveal plenty of instances of male-male sexual practices involving Polynesian and Melanesian males, which, in pre-missionary days anyway, was seen as normal, openly referred to and not the least bit shameful.

She argues that these encounters forced ethnographers of the Enlightenment era to view sex between men as being not limited merely to the detestable and abominable act of sodomy, but as something altogether different. Up till then, homosexuality simply didn’t exist. In fact, until the late 19th century homosexuality wasn’t recognised as a distinct category of person. The word wasn’t even invented until 1868 when it made its appearance in the lexicon, in a German pamphlet.
What was recognised and abominated, and had been since medieval Christian theologians of the 11th century had declared it so, was sodomy, though that initially applied to all manner of non-procreative sexual practices.

This was later confused with unnatural acts, which ranged even more widely to include, among other things, procreative sexual acts in the wrong position or with contraceptive intent. Later Christian authors couldn’t agree on what unnatural acts or sodomy meant, some in the 13th century defining it as every genital contact intended to produce orgasm except intercourse in an approved position – presumably what we’ve come to know as the missionary position. The English Reformation Parliament of 1533 then turned that religious injunction against sodomy into the secular and abominable crime of buggery, punishable by death, but this wasn’t limited to activity between males and could involve a male and female, even a husband and wife.

As Dr Wallace argues, those attitudes held sway until encounters with the sexually relaxed ways of the Pacific gave rise to a reimagining of sodomy, which was to ultimately give birth to what we now know as homosexual identity.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific, the missionaries were doing a sterling job of wiping out all manner of activity which could be construed as even remotely sexual. They didn’t succeed totally.

The faafafine of Samoa, the fakaleiti of Tonga, and the mahu of Tahiti, continued to thrive – defying easy definitions, being neither strictly homosexual nor transsexual. As for Maori, there’s no reason to suppose they were any less sexually relaxed than their Polynesian cousins. Dig a little deeper and there’s plenty of evidence of what another academic, Dr Leonie Pihama, calls a more fluid, more open attitude to sexuality and gender roles before the influence of the church and colonisation.

She says Maori terms which refer to an intimate companion of the same sex indicate not only that same-sex relationships existed in pre-Christian Maori culture, but were also no big deal. In fact, says Dr Pihama, it’s even acknowledged in well-loved legends such as that of Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

Hinemoa, as we all know, was the maiden who was so enamoured of Tutanekai that she swam across Lake Rotorua in the dead of night to be with her lover, guided only by his flute. It’s a great love story but there’s a twist which has been sanitised in the more general telling to accommodate the shift in morality. It seems that before Hinemoa, Tutanekai lived with another – a male by the name of Tuki, and was so beloved that when Tutanekai took up with Hinemoa, he gifted him land to atone for his abandonment. Or so the revised story goes.

As for defining sexual identity, Dr Wallace says that’s a continuing saga.

16 November 2007 – From: *"Watson, Stuart"

HIV and Human Rights International Guidelines

Dear Colleagues,
The 2006 Consolidated Version of the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights (HR/PUB/06/9) is now available in English.

The 115-page Guidelines are published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). This publication seeks to assist States in designing, coordinating and implementing effective national HIV/AIDS policies and strategies. Furthermore, it provides a framework for a rights-based response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic by outlining how human rights standards apply in the context of HIV/AIDS and translating them into practical measures that should be undertaken at the national level.

A reminder that the International Guidelines are also available electronically on the OHCHR website, from where they can be downloaded free of charge (for the time being in English only): http://www.ohchr. org/english/ issues/hiv/ docs/consolidate d_guidelines. pdf


Uniting the world against *AIDS*

Stuart Watson
UNAIDS Pacific Coordinator
(Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) Level 5, Vanua House Victoria Parade Suva, Republic of the Fiji Islands

postal: c/o UNDP / Private Mail Bag / Suva, Fiji
phone: (+679) 331-0480
fax: (+679) 331-0425
email: watsons@unaids. org

30 October 2008 –

Pacific Men Who Have Sex With Men Need Increased Government And Regional Institutional Support, Says
Pacific Sexual Diversity Network

The Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN) today called on Pacific governments and regional institutions to address issues affecting men who have sex with men (MSM) and other vulnerable populations in the response to HIV/AIDS in the Pacific.

In order to effectively achieve this, the PSDN (which currently includes organisations from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, PNG and Vanuatu) believes that organisations such as itself and other groups that represent vulnerable populations should be included

Read More

June 2009 – Pacific Sexual Diversity Network

Pacific Sexual Diversity Network – HIV/AIDS


4 Pacific Sexual Diversity Network – HIV/AIDS, men who have sex with men and transgender people in the Pacific and HIV/AIDS in the Pacific, this report has been written to advocate for action to be taken by Pacific governments, churches, communities, inter-government and non-government organisations, and other institutions working in the region, in order to prevent the spread of HIV, and more broadly, address the health, legal and social issues facing Pacific MSM and transgenders.

This report is about sexual and gender diversity and HIV/AIDS in the Pacific. It was compiled as a result of a workshop conducted with the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN) as part of an exchange program to ACON in Sydney during October 2008. Representatives of Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Cook Islands attended the exchange which focused on skills development in health promotion, organisational infrastructure and advocacy. The exchange was funded through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship. The PSDN formed in 2007 as a Pacific regional network for organisations and projects working with men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people in the Pacific, especially in relation to HIV/AIDS. It coordinates regional communication, capacity development of MSM and transgender organisations, and advocacy and representation on behalf of Pacific MSM and transgender people. Currently it has members in Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Cook Islands.

Based in the Australian state of New South Wales, ACON formed in 1985 as a central part of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community’s response to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since then it has grown into one of the largest community-based HIV/AIDS and GLBT health organisations in the world. Since 2005, ACON has provided capacity building programs and built a range of partnerships with similar organisations in the Asia-Pacific region. This report has been produced for two main purposes. First, it seeks to voice the experiences and challenges of MSM and transgender people in the Pacific, within the context of the current and potential impact of HIV/AIDS. Despite a growing realisation that HIV among MSM and transgender people is an increasingly serious health issue in the global south, there has been limited attention given to the existence of, or potential for, an MSM and transgender HIV epidemic in the Pacific.

Read entire document

July 14, 2009 – Science Daily

Understanding The Process Of Homosexual Identity Formation Among Asian And Pacific Islander Youth

ScienceDaily – Young American-raised Asian and Pacific Islanders (API), who are in the sexual minority, face psychological and social stresses in dealing with their families’ values and ancestral cultures that significantly impact the development of their ethnic and sexual identities. API teens and young adults identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender face a different set of challenges than their western or Caucasian peers, which can lead to rejection from their families who emigrated to the U.S. and a stigmatization by the larger Asian community.

In a new study, Hyeouk Chris Hahm, Assistant Professor at the BU School of Social Work has developed a new intellectual framework for the development of positive ethnic/sexual identities among API gays and lesbian adolescents.

The process of homosexual identify formation among API youth, where the role of family life, personal sacrifice for family tranquility and generational clashes are central social stresses, is in addition to the external factors as racism, sexism and acculturation, that many Asian Americans face. This combination of ethnic and gender differences has led the BU researchers to develop a new model of identity formation for this group which also serves to increase understanding of the diversity of the "new gay teenager."

Their study is based on Hahm’s earlier study, about 1,000 Asian American adolescents and young adults (18 to 27 years old), who said they were attracted to the same sex. This group struggled to both fit in with the prevailing American culture and also establish an authentic sexual identity that they knew was different from the norms of mainstream U.S. and their parents culture ( primarily from China, Japan and Korea).

"For instance, in South Korea, where male children have obligations to marry and create a traditional notion of family, homosexuality is considered a deviant behavior that brings family dishonor and shame," the study states, noting that this cultural barrier leaves this sexual minority with multiple oppressions and a sense of fear and inability to accept their sexual identity.

API women who are gay also face an Asian culture that requires them to stick to family values, marry men and have children or place shame on their families, neighbors and community. Researchers found that many Asian cultural norms render women invisible and silent. Thus these women compared to heterosexual API women and both heterosexual and homosexual API men had a higher prevalence of tobacco, binge drinking, marijuana and other drugs.

The reasons? The API women who were gay were less likely to adhere to traditional family-oriented gender roles, were unable or willing to gain or receive emotional support from their families and were likely to compete with men for masculine privileges so they could escape sexist oppression.

Often, the result for both young men and women is to mask homosexual behaviors and avoid alienating their family and parents’ communities. In their relationships with others, they often have to decide which identity will take precedence: an ethnic or sexual identity.

"In the Western gay and lesbian community, ‘coming out,’ is final revelation that you are homosexual while for API in America of Korean descent, there is ‘coming home,’ where you want to integrate culturally and be both an American and Korean," said Professor Hahm. "This is not staying closeted but rather alluding to your sexuality to a family member, who may not challenge it, as long as the status quo within the family is maintained."

Over time, many manage the conflicts that arise from choosing one over the other and enter into a homosexual identity with many negative stereotypes and assumptions related to their ethnic identity. Still others sublimate their sexual identify and appear asexual until they are able to synthesize an identity that incorporates both ethnicity and sexuality.

The researchers developed an API sexual minority model that simultaneously explores sexual development and cultural identity development in four stages: initiation, primacy, conflict and identity synthesis. These are combined with the four strategies of acculturation – the process by which foreign-born individuals and their families learn to adopt the language, values, beliefs and behaviors of their new cultural environments. Those strategies are assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization. Together they set API sexual minorities apart from Western gays and lesbian community.

September 29, 2010 – The Fiji Times

Gay students band together

– The University of the South Pacific (USP) ( is a public university with a number of locations spread throughout a dozen countries in Oceania. It is an international centre for teaching and research on Pacific culture and environment. USP’s academic programmes are recognised worldwide, attracting students and staff from throughout the Pacific Region and internationally. USP is owned by the governments of 12 Pacific Island countries: the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.-GG

by Tavai Bale
A Support group for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans-genders has been formed at the University of the South Pacific.
The ‘Drodrolagi’ (Fijian word for rainbow which is the international symbol for gay, lesbian and bisexual pride) Movement had its first meeting on Monday afternoon with a good turnout of students and supporters both queer and straight.

Coordinator and avid GLBT activist, Kris Prasad said he was inspired by the work of the Drodrolagi Association that was set up in 1997 and wanted to mirror their initiative in providing a safe environment and support structure for queer students and raise awareness at USP. When asked about the risks of marginalisation and alienation of students that might intend to join Drodrolagi Movement, Kris expressed concern. "Safety is paramount for us. We want students to be comfortable in their own skin, and joining the movement is totally voluntary."

Students present at the meeting expressed their excitement with the Movement. Members of the gay community in Suva shared similar sentiments, saluting the efforts of young activists such as Kris Prasad in creating awareness and establishing safe spaces for queer students in such an impressionable institution as USP. Reigning Miss Senikau, Rani Ravudi, a strong advocate for gay rights and equality, said "this would be the stepping stone for GLBT students on campus to help eradicate homophobia and other issues they face". Rani also stressed the importance of HIV and health awareness.

Also present at the meeting was 2010 Hibiscus contestant, Miss Youth Coalition, Paulini Saurogo and the Young Women’s Officer from the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Filomena Tuivanualevu. Both women, being former students, worried about opposition to the idea, but were positive about the movement’s objectives ¡¡¡¡ù pledging their support for future events and activities.

2010 December 9 –

Lower HIV Prevalence Among Asian/Pacific Islander Men Who Have Sex with Men
: A Critical Review for Possible Reasons.

by Wei C, Raymond HF, Wong FY, Silvestre AJ, Friedman MS, Documét P, McFarland W, Stall R. Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, A212 Crabtree Hall, 130 DeSoto Street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15261, USA,

We conducted a critical literature review for possible reasons that may explain the lower HIV prevalence observed among API MSM compared to MSM of other races/ethnicities. Trends emerging from the literature suggest that traditional individual-level factors-unprotected anal intercourse, substance use, STD prevalence, rates and frequency of HIV testing, and utilization of HIV prevention services-do not appear to be related to the lower HIV prevalence among API MSM. Some evidence suggests that socio-cultural and structural factors might be the more critical forces in determining racial/ethnic disparities of HIV among MSM. For API MSM, these factors include structures of sexual networks, access to and reception of medical care and treatment among HIV-positive MSM, and influences of different levels and types of acculturation. Moreover, emerging risk reduction strategies, such as seroadaptive behaviors, could play a role. Future research should address these factors in intervention design. In addition, better theories of resilience and measurement of strengths and protective factors are needed to enhance the efficacy of HIV interventions.

October 11, 2011 – Office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights

Decriminalizing Homosexuality–first step to establish equality

Op-ed by Matilda Bogner
Decriminalizing homosexuality is an essential first step towards establishing genuine equality before the law

Calls for truly universal application of human rights have been gathering momentum at the global level. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon have both called for measures to counter discrimination and violence against those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI). Last year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched an appeal for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality and for every country to ensure equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, is just that. It is universal and it applies to us all—whoever we are, whatever we look like, whoever we share our lives with. No exceptions.

Pacific Island countries have supported this call, with Australia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu signing onto a joint statement of over 80 countries at the UN Human Rights Council condemning violence based on sexual orientation in March this year. The statement expressed concern at the continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, including killings, rape, torture and criminal sanctions.

This message was underlined by a historic Human Rights Council resolution on 17 June 2011, expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. The resolution requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to commission a study, to be finalized by December 2011, documenting discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against LGBTI individuals, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end these violations. Laws criminalizing same-sex relations between consenting adults remain on the statute books in more than 70 countries globally, including the Pacific Island countries of Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu. Such laws are an affront to principles of equality and non-discrimination and fuel hatred and violence—in effect giving homophobia a State-sanctioned seal of approval.

Recognising this, Palau and Nauru accepted recommendations to decriminalize homosexual acts during their appearances at the Human Rights Council. Pacific Island countries have now all completed the first round of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of their human rights situation. Each country will return to the review in four years time to see what progress has been made in implementing their human rights commitments. During the most recent UPR meeting at the Human Rights Council, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea rejected recommendations relating to the decriminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex – citing cultural or religious reasons.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is encouraging countries to make progress in the area of LGBTI rights, and in particular the decriminalization of sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. In a speech on Human Rights Day (10 December) 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “As men and women of conscience, we reject discrimination in general, and in particular discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity… Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day”.

Decriminalizing homosexuality is an essential first step towards establishing genuine equality before the law. But real, lasting progress cannot be achieved by changing laws alone. We must change minds as well. Like racism and misogyny, homophobia is a prejudice born of ignorance. And like other forms of prejudice, the most effective long-term response is legal equality backed-up by information and education.

*Matilda Bogner is the Regional Representative for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Regional Office for the Pacific, based in Suva, Fiji.

For further information and media requests to OHCHR’s Regional Office for the Pacific in Suva, please contact Communications Officer Jacob Quinn at + (679) 331 0465 (ext. 211), or by email