Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
Commonwealth member state
Penal Code 1977, Section 153 Unnatural Offences

Section 153 criminalises “buggery” between men, with a penalty of 14 years imprisonment.1

Penal Code 1977, Section 154 Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences and Indecent Assaults

Section 154 criminalises attempts to commit buggery, or any indecent assault upon a male person, with a penalty of seven years imprisonment.2

Penal Code 1977, Section 155 Indecent Practices Between Males

Section 155 prohibits acts of “gross indecency” between males, or the procurement or attempted procurement thereof, with a penalty of five years imprisonment.3



The US Department of State Human Rights Report on Kiribati have indicated that there were no prosecutions of LGBT persons under the laws criminalising consensual sexual conduct between men in recent years.


During its second UPR cycle, the state explained that: “[t]here has not been any prosecution of same sex offenders although ‘buggery’ is an offence prohibited by the Penal Code Cap 67”.

Persecution and Discrimination


The US Department of State Human Rights Report found no instances of societal discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no law specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Legislative News


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 response to recommendation 66.23 made during Kiriabti’s first UPR cycle, the national report submitted during its second cycle explained that there hadn’t been any prosecutions under the buggery laws, but provided no further information on the status of the laws criminalising homosexual sexual conduct. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative noted that despite Kiribati’s commitment to consider decriminalisation, the prior recommendations remained pending. Further recommendations with respect to decriminalisation as well as adopting legislation to expand forms of discrimination that are prohibited were included in the working group report in 2015. In response, Kiribati noted the recommendations calling for decriminalisation and indicated that it would consider the recommendation with respect to adopting legislation prohibiting all forms of discrimination of individuals, based on race, colour of the skin, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, aesthetic aspect, gender, sexual identity or orientation.


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.


During its first UPR cycle, Kiribati indicated that it was prepared to consider the recommendations to decriminalise homosexuality, and to amend its Constitution so as to expand the prohibited grounds of discrimination to include not only gender, but sexual orientation, disability, health status and economic status.

1. Penal Code 1977, S. 153 Unnatural Offences

“Any person who-

(a) commits buggery with another person or with an animal; or

(b) permits a male person to commit buggery with him or her,

shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 14 years.” Full text.

2. Penal Code 1977, S. 154 Attempt to Commit Unnatural Offences and Indecent Assaults

“Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences it specified in the last preceding section, or who is guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, or any indecent assault upon any male person shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 7 years.” Full text.

3. Penal Code 1977, S. 155 Indecent Practices Between Males

“Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, shall be guilty of a felony, and shall be liable to imprisonment for 5 years.” Full text.

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