“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 the path to equality that New Zealand has helped to pave.”
The news from Fiji follows celebrations in New Zealand this month for the 20th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Act, which decriminalised sex between men in 1986. Ms Le Mesurier says this move was essential in ensuring early HIV prevention efforts in New Zealand were successful.
“The spread of HIV is facilitated by the prejudice, discrimination and marginalisation of minority communities,” she says. “Making gay men into criminals only serves to drive sexual activity underground, making it almost impossible to reach with safe sex information and life-saving condoms.”
With international health authorities warning of a potential HIV/AIDS time bomb threatening the Pacific, any efforts by governments and societies to lift suppression and silence around sexuality and HIV are to be commended and supported, Ms Le Mesurier adds.