While same-sex marriage is still not legal in Fiji, Government has undertaken reforms to ensure there was no discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex community.
Acting Prime Minister and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said during the nationwide constitutional consultation, majority Fijians while not in favour of same-sex marriage, did not believe in criminalising homosexuality.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said keeping that in mind, while same-sex marriage remained illegal Government nonetheless gave unprecedented protection to the community through other means.
He said same-sex marriage in Fiji was illegal, but five years ago, Fiji decriminalised homosexuality giving more rights to the community.
Speaking at the launch of the UN Free and Equal Campaign Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said before the Crimes Decree came into effect, homosexuality could land people in jail for up to 15 years and those convicted could also face flogging.
The Bainimarama-Government has gone further and given protection to the community by adding in anti-discrimination laws in the 2013 Constitution.
Section 26 (3) of the Constitution reads: “A person must not be unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly on the grounds of his or her— (a) actual or supposed personal characteristics or circumstances, including race, culture, ethnic or social origin, colour, place of origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, birth, primary language, economic or social or health status, disability, age, religion, conscience, marital status or pregnancy…”
The other manner in which Government has recognised the rights of this community in Fiji is to amend the laws regarding rape. Where previously rape meant insertion of penis into vagina, now it is broader.
Under the Crimes Decree, rape is when : “(a) the perpetrator sexually penetrates another person without the consent of that person;
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said while there has been changes in the law, there was a need for attitudinal change as well.
Fiji also now has a Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission as opposed to just the Human Rights Commission, widening the net of protection for communities.