an organisation advocating for the local ‘binabinaine’ community.
Types of criminalisation
- Criminalises LGBT people
- Criminalises sexual activity between males
Same-sex sexual activity is prohibited under the Penal Code 1977, which criminalises acts of ‘buggery’ and ‘gross indecency’. These provisions carry a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment. Only men are criminalised under this law.
The law was inherited from the British during the colonial period, in which the English criminal law was imposed upon Kiribati. Kiribati retained the provision upon independence in 1979 and continues to criminalise same-sex sexual activity today.
There is no evidence of the law being enforced for many years, and it appears to be largely obsolete in practice. Nevertheless, the mere existence of this provision is itself a violation of human rights and underpins further acts of discrimination (see further). There have been few reports of discrimination and violence being committed against LGBT people in Kiribati in recent years.
Important changes were made to sexual offences laws by the Penal Code (Amendment) and the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Act 2017 (see more), however, the provisions criminalising same-sex sexual activity remain in place.
Kiribati was one of just two countries (the other being Sri Lanka) that currently criminalise homosexuality to vote against a bid to revoke the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In April, the government rejected a private member’s bill to amend the Constitution to include sex, gender and sexual orientation as grounds for discrimination.
We’ve also assessed Kiribati’s sexual offence laws against international human rights standards. Kiribati made some important positive changes to its sexual offence provisions in 2017, however it continues to criminalise same-sex sexual activity and fails to fully protect women and children from sexual offences.
In July, a blog by the co-founder of local LGBT organisation BIMBA noted that the organisation was set up to amplify the voices of the local binabinaine population who are subjected to constant “social discrimination, hatred, and stigma.”
The US Department of State report noted that “social stigma and the inaccessibility of government services” may prevent reporting of discrimination and violence.
a regional human rights organisation working to advance the rights of all people, including LGBT people in the Pacific.
a regional network advocating for the rights of LGBT people across the Pacific.
Samoa criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men. Sentences include a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
Tuvalu criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men. Sentences include a maximum penalty of fourteen years’ imprisonment.
Tonga criminalises same-sex sexual activity between men and between women. Sentences include a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment.
Support our Work
Almost 70 countries still criminalise LGBT people. Together, we can bring this number down. A donation today will help continue our vital support for LGBT people and governments seeking to change laws around the world.Donate