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The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) reports only eight out of 14 states in the Oceania region have decriminalised same sex sexual acts, including Australia and Fiji. In all the Pacific islands covered here, homosexuality is illegal.

Recent developments 

In Samoa, despite revisions of its penal code as recently as 2013, the Government in 2010 had rejected a recommendation from the Samoa Law Commission to abolish sodomy laws, arguing this was unacceptable in a Christian country.

Notwithstanding, those reforms did include the decriminalisation of female impersonation, affirming the rights of the Samoan fa’afafine community (who identify themselves as third gender/non-binary).

In these largely socially conservative societies with strong Christian ethos, being openly LGBT+ can be dangerous. In addition to legal discrimination, social discrimination against LGBT+ people continues, in some cases violently.

For example, in 2021 in Tonga a prominent human rights activist and president of Tonga Leitis Association, an organisation working for LGBTQ+ communities, was allegedly murdered.

Responding to the incident, the ILGA Oceania said:

Throughout Oceania, members of ILGA Oceania still face violence and discrimination because of our sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or intersex status. For the majority, these issues are linked to broader issues of gender equality, autonomy over our bodies and lives, sexual and reproductive health and rights. As well as multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of factors such as class, poverty, occupation as sex workers, religion, race, HIV status and disability.

In the Solomon Islands the Governor General in 2018 spoke openly about the his desire to resist international pressure to  accept, for example, same sex marriage.


We use the term LGBT+ in this briefing (except when quoting someone else’s words). This refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The ‘+’ symbol is used to include people who do not identify with typical binary notions of male and female, or who decide to identify themselves using other categories to describe their gender identity or sexuality, such as non-binary or queer. In the countries we focus on, the legislation is largely around same sex sexual activity rather than gender identity. Many of the organisations cited in this briefing use LGBTI, with the I referring to intersex.

UK Government position

Successive governments have said that the promotion and protection of the human rights of LGBT+ people internationally is a priority.

The UK Government had planned to host the international conference, Safe to Be Me, in June 2022 to bring together countries, businesses and international civil society organisations to address global LGBT+ inclusion.

However, following the Government’s decision to introduce a ban on conversion therapy for gay or bisexual people but not for transgender people in the 2022 Queen’s Speech, many UK charities withdrew from attending. The Government subsequently announced it would cancel the June 2022 conference.

Further reading

ILGA World’s State-Sponsored Homophobia (PDF)
December 2020

World map on sexual orientation laws (PDF)
December 2020

World’s Trans Legal Mapping Report ILGA
September 2020

Documents to download

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