Fiji Christian coalition demands amendment to sexual orientation law

Troy Espera | October 05, 2006

A Christian churches coalition in Fiji issued a formal request to amend the Bill of Rights in the island nation�s Constitution that prohibits discrimination against sexual orientation.

According to the Fiji Times, the Assembly of Christian Churches in Fiji (ACCF) delivered a letter to Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, expressing opposition against the sexual orientation content of the Constitution, which it says condones "immoral" sexual behavior.

In its letter, the group said the provision, contained in Section 38 of the Constitution, would give rise to �all sorts of immoral practices like same sex marriages and the ordination of gay priests.�

The Times reports that the group, which claimed to represent the views of 20 Christian denominations, drafted the letter when it was alerted to alleged attempts to establish a gay resort in the Yasawa Group.

ACCF spokesman Sani Matalomani told the Times that while they were deeply disturbed by the report of the alleged project, he said his group was not interested in "pruning the issue but would rather get to the root of the problem.�

Prime Minister Qarase told reporters he was aware of the concerns of the religious groups but had yet to read the contents of the letter.

"There is no denying that there is pressure to amend the sexual orientation provision as many people are not happy with the current form of the clause," he told Fiji news source Fijilive.com. "This is not the only provision that has received intense pressure for amendment but there has been a commission set to look into constitutional amendment."

According to Matalomani the laws against sodomy under the penal code have been rendered unconstitutional, sanctioning the practice between consenting adults, reports Fijilive.com.

Church organizations around the country have expressed their disappointment and disagreement with the provision, saying it allows on a legal basis for same sex marriage.

"The word sexual orientation is not defined and its meaning is wider than gay rights, the connotation includes deviant sexual practises such as paedophilia, bestiality and many other immoral practices,� the ACCF letter continued.

The Fiji Times reports that gay rights group Equal Ground preferred not to make a statement on the issue at this time. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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