NEWS

Differences Here Over Australia’s Recent Same-Sex Marriage Vote

Views on gay marriage in the Pacific are polarised following this week’s announcement that a majority of Australians who participated in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey said yes to
18 Nov 2017 11:59
Differences Here Over Australia’s Recent Same-Sex Marriage Vote
Australian same-sex marriage supporters celebrate the result of their country’s vote on same-sex marriage.

Views on gay marriage in the Pacific are polarised following this week’s announcement that a majority of Australians who participated in the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey said yes to same-sex marriage.

Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) executive director, Nalini Singh strongly endorsed the result of the survey.

“This is a significant moment for the Pacific where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) rights are still severely restricted in majority of our small island nations,” Ms Singh said.

“In Fiji the 2013 Constitution prohibits discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression, but there are still problematic provisions that are barriers to their full recognition and protection – marriage equality being one of them,” she said.

Ms Singh said while same sex couples and parents are currently not recognised in Fiji, she hopes the result of the Australian same-sex marriage survey will lead the way for countries in the Pacific.

“Even within the Family Law Act 2005, ‘de facto relationship’ is interpreted as a relationship between a man and a woman who live with each other as spouses on a genuine domestic basis although not legally married to each other.

“We stand in solidarity with the movement in Australia and hope that more Pacific nations will also follow through.”

International human rights organisation, Amnesty International also warmly welcomed the announcement.

“Marriage equality is a human right and all Australians have the right to equal treatment under the law,” said Amnesty International Australia’s Marriage Equality Campaign co-ordinator, Naomi Vaughan.

“LGBTQI couples have waited long enough for marriage equality and we’re thrilled to see Australia take a step closer to achieving this,” Ms Vaughan said.

Amnesty International’s Pacific Researcher, Kate Schuetze said countries in the Pacific continue to face challenges to ensure rights regarding sexuality are respected.

“Essentially most countries in the Pacific face challenges in ensuring that people are not criminalised, marginalised or discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Ms Schuetze said.

Meanwhile, the Methodist Church in Fiji Secretary for Communication and Overseas Mission, Reverend James Bhagwan referenced a 2015 statement when asked of the Methodist Church’s stance on Australia’s same-sex marriage survey result.

The Church’s 2015 media statement reads: “The Methodist Church in Fiji affirms its doctrinal position that marriage is a sacred covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman.”

Last year Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said same-sex marriage will not be legal in Fiji during his lifetime and that gay couples “should go and have it done in Iceland.”

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar

Feedback:  kogo.fujiki@fijisun.com.fj



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